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Edinhvrgh: Scott cC Ferguson and Burnas <C Company, 
Printers to Her Majesty. 













In Three Volumes 
Vol. II 





Oil, like a glorious bird of God, he leapt up from the earth, 
A lark in Song's exalted heaven, a robin by the hearth ! 
Oh, like a peerless flower he sprang from Nature's meanest sod, 
Yet shedding joy on every path by human footstep trod ! 
How shall we tell his wondrous power, how shall we say or sing 
What magic to a million hearts his deathless strains can bring ! 
How men on murkiest battlefields have felt the potent charm. 
Till sinking valour leapt to life, and strung the nerveless arm ! 

James Macfarlan. 



Rbv. George Lawrie, D.D., . . . 1 

Jessie Lewahs, ..... 


IsABKLLA Lindsay, .... 


Jon.v LoGAX OF Lauiht an'p Knocksuinnoch, 


Jean Lorlmek, .... 


Jean MARKr.AND, .... 


John Mackenzie, M.D., 


Allan Masterton, .... 


Rev. John M'Math, .... 


John !N[axwell of Terrauohty, 


William Ma.xwell, ^f.l)., .... 


Mrs. Aqnbs M'Lehose, .... 


John M'A[urdo, .... 


Patrick Miller of Dai-swinton, . 


John AfooRE, M.D., .... 


Mary Morison, .... 


Christina ^[orton, .... 


John Murdoch, .... 


Robert Muiu, .... 


"William Muir, .... 


Alexander Nasmyth, 


William Nicol, .... 


The Nivbn Family, .... 


Thomas Orr, .... 


Colonel Arent Schuyler de Peyster, 


John Ramsay of Ochtertyrb, 


John Rankine, .... 


.lonx Kit IIMOND, .... 

. 163 



Captain Robert Riddel, 

Mrs. Walter Riddel, 

Hugh Roger, 

Rev. John Russell, 

Thomas Samson, 

David Sillar, 

William Simson, 

Rev. John Skinner, 

William Smellie, 

James Smith, 

Peter Stuart, 

John Syme, . 

Craufurd Tait, 

John Tennant, 

George Thomson, 

Margaret Thomson, 

Gavin Turnbull, 

James Tytler, 

Professor Josiah Walker, 

Sir John Whitefoord, Bart., 

John Wilson (of Mauchline), 
























Appendix I. — Brief Notices of other Friends of the Poet, and of 
Persons referred to in his Writings : — 

Lesley Baillie, 

Ellison Begbie, 

Rev. William Boyd, 

Hugh Brown, . 

Richard Brown, 

Mrs. Catherine Bruce, 

David, eleventh Earl of Buchan, 

Elizabeth Burnet, 

William Chalmers, 

Stephen Clarke, 




Ladv Winifkei) Maxwell Constable, 

William Cunninoiiame, 

Miss Deboiiaii 1). Davii; , 

George Dbmpmteu, 

John Dovk, 

Rev. Du. Kobbrt Duncan, 

Archibald, eleventh Earl of Eountun, 

Hon. Henky Kkskine, . 

Jane Fehiuer, . 

AoNEs Fleming, 

Christian Flint, 

Miss Fontenelle, 

Rev. Ale.xandeu Geddes, LL.D 

John Goldie, . 

Captain John Hamilton, 

Patrick Heron ok Heron and Kerrougbtree, 

James Humphry, 

Jean Jaffray, . 

Jean Kennedy, 

Helen Kirkpatrick, 

David M'Culloch of Ardwell, 

Rrv. William M'Gili^ D.D., 

Henry Mackenzie, 

Rev. James Mackinlay, D.D., 

Isabella M'Leod of Raasay, 

Ret. William M'Quhae, D.D , 

Rev. Alexander Miller, 

John Mitchell, 

Rev. Alexander Moodie, 

EuPiiEMiA Murray of Lintrose, 

Rev. John Mutrie, 

Rev. James Olipiiant, . 

Mrs. Lucy Oswald, 

Rev. William Peebles, D.D., 

Rev. John Robertson,. 

Jean and Anne Ronald, 

r A'.i, 




Mrs. Elizabetu Scott, rde Rutherford, 

Rev. Andrew Shaw, D.D., 

Rev. David Shaw, D.D., 

William Sloan, 

Rev. George Smith, D.D., 

Professor Dugald Stewart, 

Mrs, Katherine Stewart of Stair, 

Mary Stewart, 

William Stewart, 

Rev. James Steven, D.D., 

George S. Sutherland, 

Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee, 

William Tytler of Woodhouselee, . 

Helen Maria Williams, 

John Wilson, Tarbolton, 

Rev. Patrick Wodrow, D.D., . 

William Woods, .... 



Appendix II. — Unpublished Verses on the Memory of Burns, by the 

Rev. Dr. Henry Duncan, Minister of Ruthwell, . . 356 

Appendix III. — Restoration of the Poet's Ancestral Tombstone at 

KiRKOswALD, Inaugural Ceremony, 3rd August 1883, . .359 

Appendix IV. — The Restored Tombstones op the Poet's Ancestors at 
Glenbbrvie, Inaugural Ceremony, 25th June 1885, 



Facsimile of a Letter by William Burnes, the Poet's 

Father, to Thomas Our, 3rd August 1781, . . fadng page 153 



The name Lawrie, otherwise Lowry and Laurie, is common to 
several i)arts of Scotland, but the chief sept bearing the designation 
is connected with Dumfriesshire. From Stephen Laurie, a merchant 
in Dumfries, who flourished in the reign of James VL, descended 
Sir Robert Laurie of JMaxweltou, whose daughter Anna (familiarly 
Annie), born in 168.2, is the heroine of a popular song.' 

Springing from the Dumfriesshire sept, the Rev. John Lawrie 
ministered some time at Macosquin, in Ireland, and was from thence, 
in 1G89, called to the parish of Penpont. Translated to Auchinleck 
in 1G92, he there discharged the pastoral duties till his death in 1704. 
His son James, licensed to preach in 1709, was, on the 8th May 
1711, ordiiined minister of Kirkmichael, in the county of Ayr. He 
died on the 7th August 17G4, having fulfilled a ministry of fifty-four 
years. By his wife, Ann Ord (married 11th September 1714, died 
28th December 1747), he had three sons and a daughter, Helen.* 
The youngest son, George, became the Poet's friend. 

George Kiwrie was born at the manse of Kirkmichael on the 
21st September 1727.' Educated at the Univcrsitv, and licensed 

* Al'Dowoll's IliMory of Dun\fru:-, -ii. _ 1... ' l\ti<li Levi. .>cyr., i. !'.i. 

' Kirkmichael Parish Register. 


by the Presbytery of Edinburgh, he was, on the 28tli Sei>U'iuber 
1763, ordained minister of Loudoun or Newmills, Ayrshire. On the 
invitation of Mr. Gavin Hamilton, he became a subscriber for several 
copies of Burns's Kihnarnock edition, and when the work reached 
him, he read its contents with surprise and admiration. Being on 
terms of friendship with Dr. Bhicklock, he sent to the Doctor one 
of the copies, and begged that, in the event of his entertaining the 
same high opinion of the poetry that he had done personally, he 
would bring the author under the notice of Dr. Blair. Meanwhile 
Mr. Lawrie invited the Poet to his manse, and the invitation was 
readily accepted. 

Burns made his visit on one of the early days of September 1786. 
Tlie manse of Loudoun rests beautifully on St. Margaret's Hill, near 
the L-vine water ; and the sweetness of the scene, which the Poet 
remarked on his approaching it, had an aj)propriate sequel in the 
cordiality of his reception. Mr. Lawrie's family consisted of his wife, 
a mild, estimable woman of considerable literary culture, a son rising 
into manhood, and four beautiful daughters, the two eldest, who 
were twins, being in their twentieth year, and the youngest, Louisa, 
seventeen. One of the young ladies played upon the spinet, and 
the visitor gallantly remarked to her that she knew how to enchant 
a poet. In the evening there was a dance, in which the Poet joined. 
Large-limbed as he was, he danced with grace, and it was remarked 
by Miss Louisa that he " kept time admirably." At this period Burns 
was under deep dejection, and the kindness extended to him by a 
generous and sympathizing household affected him powerfully. In 
the manse he remained during the night, and, as he did not appear 
at the breakfast-hour, Mr. Archibald Lawrie, his entertainer's son, 
was sent to awaken him. But he met the Poet on the stair, who, 
in response to an inquiry as to how he had slept, said he had been 
praying half the night. " My prayers," he added, " you will find 


upon the dressing-table." There, after his departure, Mr. Lawrie's 
family took up a scrap of paper bearing these lines : — 

Thou dread Power, who reign'st above ! 

I know Thou wilt me hear, 
When for this scene of peace and love 

I make my prayer sincere. 

The hoary sire — the mortal stroke, 

Long, long be pleas'd to spare ; 
To bless his little filial flock, 

And show what good men are. 

She, who her lovely offspring eyes 

With tender hopes and fears, 
Oh, bless her with a mother's joys, 

But spare a mother's tears ! 

Their hope, their stay, their darling youth, 

In manhood's dawning blush ! 
Bless him. Thou God of love and truth, 

Up to a parent's wish. 

The beauteous, seraph sister-band— 

With earnest tears I pray, 
Thou know'st the snares on ev'ry hand. 

Guide Thou their steps alway. 

When, soon or late, they reach that coast, 

O'er life's rough ocean driven, 
May they rejoice, no wand'rer lost, 

A family in heaven ! 

From the manse windows could be observed the old castle of New- 
mills, with a range of hills rising towards the south. In allusion to 
these objects, and to the festivities in which he had so agreeably 


sliared, the Poet inscribed on a scrap of paper, which be banded to 
Miss Louisa, these two verses :— ^ 

The night was still, and o'er the hill 

The moon shone on the castle wa' ; 
The mavis sang, while dew-drops hang 

Around her on the castle wa'. 

Sac merrily they danced the ring, 

Frae e'enin' till the cock did craw ; 
And aye the o'erword o' the spring, 

"Was, Irv'ine's bairns are bonnie a'. 

Leaving his kind host and his amiable househohl, wliich he did hite 
in the afternoon, Burns pursued his journey homeward, across the 
moor of Galston, when the prospect of finally parting with friends 
whose worth he estimated, and from scenes associated with tender 
memories, awakened his plaintive Muse. During his journey be 
composed what he considered would be " the last song be should 
ever measure in Caledonia," commencing "The gloomy night is 
gathering fast." 

Post nuhila Phoebus. A few days after his return to Mossgiel, 
the Poet had placed in his hands by Gavin Hamilton a letter 
which Mr. Lawrie had received from Dr. Blacklock. In this com- 
munication, dated Edinburgh, September 4th, the blind poet thanks 
his correspondent for giving him what he describes as ** an oppor- 
tunity of sharing one of the finest, and perhaps one of the most 
genuine, entertainments of which the human mind is susceptible." 
He proceeds : — 

Many instances have I seen of Nature's force and beneficence exerted under 
numerous and formidable disadvantages ; but none equal to that with which 
you have been kind enough to present me. There is a pathos and delicacy in 
his serious poems, a vein of wit and humour in those of a more festive turn. 


wliich cannot be too much admired nor too warmly approved ; and I think I 
shall never open the book without feeling my astonishment renewed and 

In conclusion, Dr. Blacklock promises to bring the volume under the 
notice of Dr. Blair, and strongly recommends that a new edition 
should be published. The letter inspired the desponding Poet with 
fresh hope. 

Having abandoned his purpose of proceeding to Jamaica, the 
Poet, early in November, paid a second visit to St. Margaret's Hill. 
As in course of conversation the prevailing rumour respecting Miss 
Peggy Kennedy was alluded to, the Poet somewhat bluntly 
expressed a view unfavourable to the lady, an act of inconsiderate- 
ness which drew forth a sharp rebuke from Mrs. Lawrie. He had 
brought for Miss Louisa's perusal the first and second volumes of a 
collection of songs, and he promised to send by the carrier the third 
and concluding volume, also a copy of Ossian. On the 13th 
November, he fulfilled his promise, accompanying the books with a 
letter to young Mr. Archibald. In this, after expressing his com- 
pliments to Mr. and Mrs. Lawrie, and warmest wishes for the young 
ladies, " particularly the fair musician," he concludes : — 

Indeed it needs not the feelings of a poet to be interested in the welfare of 
one of the sweetest scenes of domestic peace and kindred love that ever I 
saw ; as I think the peaceful unity of St. Margaret's Hill can only be excelled 
by the harmonious concord of the Apocalyptic Zion. 

When the package of books was opened up, there was found a slip 
of paper, containing the following mild expostulation with Mrs. 

Lawrie : — 

Rusticity's ungainly form. 

May cloud the highest mind ; 
But when the heart is nobly warm, 
The good excuse will find. 


Propriety's cold cautions rules 

Warm fervour may o'erlook ; 
But spare poor sensibility 

Th' ungentle, harsh rebuke. 

On the 27th November Dr. Blacklock addressed a second letter 
to Dr. Lawrie on the subject of the poems. A report had rcacthed 
him that a second edition was projected, according to some, of 
twelve, and according to others, of five thousand copies, at the 
expense of the gentlemen of Ayrshire. The Doctor had also been 
informed that his former letter to his correspondent, in commenda- 
tion of the compositions, was to be prefixed to the new volume, and 
he expressed a wish — while he had nothing to retract as to his 
favourable estimate of the poetry — that if the letter was really 
to be printed, his correspondent would " erase or correct anything 
which may appear to be careless, bombastic, or hyperlnjlical." On 
the day following the date of this letter, and without any knowledge 
of it, the Poet arrived in Edinburgh. From some cause, which is 
not quite obvious, he delayed to pay his respects to Dr. Blacklock ; 
hence, in a third letter from the Doctor to his reverend corre- 
spondent at Newmills, written alx>ut the 11th or 12th of Decern Ixjr, 
he remarks : — 

By the bye, I hear that Mr. Bums is, and has been some time, in Edinburgh. 
These news I am sorry to have had at second hand ; they would have come 
much more welcome from the Bard's own mouth. I have, however, written 
to Mr. Mackenzie, the Man of Feeling, to ])cg the favour that he would bring 

us together. 

On the 22nd of December Dr. Lawrie communicated with the 
Poet at Edinburgh as to Dr. Blacklock's desire to form his personal 
acquaintance ; he added : — 

I rejoice to hear from all corners of your rising fame, and I wish and expect 
it may tower still higher by the new publication. But as a friend I warn you 


to prepare to meet with your share of detraction and envj — a train that may 
always accompany great men. For your comfort I am in great hopes that the 
number of your friends and admirers will increase, and that you have some 
chance of Ministerial or even Koyal patronage. Now, my friend, such rapid 
success is very uncommon ; and do you think yourself in no danger of suffer- 
ing by applause and a full purse? Remember Solomon's advice, when he 
spoke from experience, " Stronger is he that conquers his own spirit," etc. I 
hope you will not imagine I speak from suspicion or evil report. I assure you 
I speak from love and good report, and good opinion, and a strong desire to see 
you shine in the sunshine as you have done in the shade — in the practice as you 
do in the theory of virtue. This is my prayer in return for your elegant com- 
position in verse. All here join in compliments and good wishes for your 
further prosperity. 

The Poet, owing to his numerous engagements, allowed Dr. 
Lawrie's letter to remain unanswered for several weeks. On the 5th 
of February 1787 he at length responded. After apologizing for 
the delay, he proceeds : — 

I feel, and ever shall feel for you, the mingled sentiments of esteem for a friend 
and reverence for a father. I thank you, sir, with all my soul for your friendly 
hints, though I do not need them so much as my friends are apt to imagine. You 
are dazzled with newspaper accounts and distant reports ; but in reality I have 
no great temptation to be intoxicated with the cup of prosperity. ISTovelty may 
attract the attention of mankind awhile ; to it I owe my present dclat ; but I 
see the time, not far distant, Avhen the popular tide, which has borne me to a 
height of which I am, perhaps, unworthy, shall recede with silent celerity, and 
leave me a barren waste of sand, to descend at my leisure to my former station. 
I do not say this in the affectation of modesty; I see the consequence is 
unavoidable, and am prepared for it. I had been at a good deal of pains to form 
a just, impartial estimate of my intellectual powers before I came here. I have 
not added, since I came to Edinburgh, anything to the account ; and I trust I 
shall take every atom of it back to my shades, the coverts of my unnoticed early 
years. In Dr. Blacklock, whom I see very often, I have found what I would 
have expected in our friend, a clear head and an excellent heart. 

Though a pronounced adherent of the Moderate party in the 


Church, Mr. Lawrie was held in gcuerul cjitoom by ail sections of 
the community. An accomplished scholar, and of wide culture, he 
in 1791 received the degree of D.D. from the University of Glasgow. 
He died on the 17th October 1799, in his seventy-eighth year and 
the thirty -seventh of his ministry.* 

Dr. Lawrie married, in 17G4, Mary, tlaughter of Professor 
Archibald Campbell of St. Andrews,' with issue two sons and four 
daughters. James, the elder son, baptized 6th Octol)cr 1765, died 
ill infancy. Of the daughters, Christina an<l Anna wore twins, 
and were bom on the 11th Noveml)cr 1766.' Christina raarrie*! 
Alexander Wilson, bookseller in Glasgow. Anna married, on the 
14th February 1800, the Rev. George Gordon, minister uf Sorn, 
with issue two sons, George Lawrie, major in the ILRLC.S., and 
Archibald Campbell ; also a daughter, Louisa. Mrs. Gordon died 
on the 8th November 1834."* 

Of the two younger daughters, Mar}-, ;i twin witli her i^rotiior 
Archibald, was baptized on the 26tli July 1768. Louisa, fourth 
and youngest daughter, was born on the 30th Octol)er 1769.* In 
prosecuting the study of music, she proceeded to E<linl>urgh, where 
Burns occasionally met her at evening gatherings. Towards the 
close of his letter to her father of the 5th February 1787, he thus 
refers to her musical performances : — 

By far the most agreeable hours I spend in Etlinburgh must be placed to 
the account of Miss Lawrie and her pianoforte. I cannot help repeating to you 
and Mrs. Lawrie a compliment that Mr. Mackenzie, the celebrated Man of 
Feeling, paid to ISIiss Lawrie the other night at the concert. I had come in at 
the interlude, and sat do\vn by him till I saw Miss Lawrie in a scat not vcrj- 
far distant, and went up to pay my respects to her. On my return to Mr. 
Mackenzie, he asked me who she was : I told him she was the daughter of a 

; Fasti Eccl Scot., ii. 185. 3 i^^^^^^^ p^^Bh Register. 

- Mrs. Lawne died at Glasgow on the 23rd ♦ Fasti Eccl. Scot ii 141 

January 1818, at the age of eighty-eight. 5 Loudoun Parish 'Register. 


reverend friend of mine in the west country. He returned, there was something 
very striking to his idea in her appearance. On my desiring to know what it 
was, he was pleased to say : " She has a great deal of the elegance of a well-bred 
lady about her, with all the sweet simplicity of a country girl." 

Archibald, younger and only surviving son of Dr. George Lawric, 
was baptized on the 26th July 1768. With this young gentleman 
the Poet corresponded in November 1786, subsequent to his second 
visit to Newmills. From Edinburgh, on the 14th August 1787, 
he, on the eve of his setting out on his tour to the Highlands, 
addressed him in a brief letter, in which he alludes to his young 
friend making preparation for the ministerial office. Archibald was 
licensed to preach on the 18th January 1791, and, on the 1st 
August 1793, was ordained assistant and successor to his father. 
In 1816 he received the degree of D.D. from the University of 
Glasgow. He ministered at Loudoun till his death, which took 
place on the 5th May 1837, in the forty-fourth year of his ministry. 
He was twice married. By his first wife, Anne Adair, sister of Dr. 
James M'Kitterick Adair (who espoused the Poet's heroine, Charlotte 
Hamilton), he had four sons ; also seven daughters, Anne Baxter, 
Mary Louisa, Christina Wilson, Barbara Adair, Louisa Campbell, 
Frances Wallace, and Henrietta Liston. 

Christina Wilson, the third daughter, born 16th September 1799, 
married the Rev. Robert Balfour Graham, minister of Stenton, 
afterwards of North Berwick, with issue. Henrietta Liston, the 
youngest daughter, born 26th February 1809, married James Dal- 
mahoy, surgeon in the H.E.LC.S. 

Of the four sons, George James, the eldest, was born on the 10th 
October 1797. In 1843 he was admitted minister of Monkton, Ayr- 
shire, in succession to the Rev. Thomas Burns, the Poet's nephew, 
who joined the Free Church. He continued to minister at Monkton 
till 1877, when he resigned his charge, and took up his residence at 



Hythe, in England. He died in 1878, in his eighty -second year. 
A man of considerable theological learning, he received the degree 
of D.D. Subsequent to his death was issued from his pen a small 
hrochure entitled Songs and Miscellaneous Pieces, Two of his 
songs, " Lang, lang Syne," and " The Auld Manse," are widely 

James Adair, the second son, bom 25th June 1801, became Pro- 
fessor of Surgery in the University of Glasgow. Francis Rawdon 
Hastings, the third son, was bom on 10th August 1807, an<l 
Archibald, the fourth son, was bom 8th September 1810. The 
first wife of Dr. Archibald Lawrie, Anne Adair, died 12th Feb- 
ruary 1822; he married, secondly, Mary Howison, who died 
26th January 1863. 


John Lewars, supervisor of Excise at Dumfries, died in that town 
on the 22nd April 1789, in the 69th year of his age.' He had a 
son John, and two daughters, Mary and Jessie. 

John Lewars the younger became an officer of Excise, and had 
the distinction of giving official instructions to the Poet on his 
joining the service. Latterly he was one of the Bard's most 
cherished associates ; he was a close attendant upon him in his last 
hours, and to Mr. James Burnes in Montrose conveyed the tidings 
of his death. Having attained the rank of supervisor, he retired 
from the revenue service in 1825. He some time rented the farm 
of Lauder in the parish of Carlaverock, but ultimately retired to 

Tombstone inscription in St. Michael's Churchyard, Dumfries. 


Ryedale Cottage, Troqueer, where he died in September 1826. In 
1799 he married Barbara Howe, of the parish of Gretna, with issue 
a son, John, and a daughter, Bessie. John died abroad, unmarried. 
Bessie married, in 1827, William Montgomery, who rented the farm 
of Hermitage in the parish of Urr, Kirkcudbrightshire, with issue 
three sons, Andrew, Hugh, and William. 

Mary, elder daughter of John Lewars senior, married William 
Hyslop, builder, Dumfries, with issue a son and daughter. 

Jessie, younger daughter, was born about the year 1778, and 
after her father's death in 1789 took up her abode with her brother, 
who occupied a small dwelling at Mill Brae (now Burns Street), 
Dumfries, immediately opposite the Poet's residence. The two 
families became intimate, Jessie being an especial favourite of Mrs. 
Burns, also of the Poet. One day, when the Poet was visiting 
Mr. Lewars, she chanced to sing the formerly popular song, known 
as " The Robin cam' to the Wren's Nest." Having become 
interested in the air, he remarked that if it would gratify the singer 
he would compose for it new words. Accordingly he, on a stray 
bit of paper, composed the song embraced in the two following 
stanzas : — 

O wert thou in the cauld blast, 

On yonder lea, on yonder lea, 
My plaidie to the angry airt, 

I'd shelter thee, I'd shelter thee ; 
Or did misfortune's bitter storms 

Around thee blaw, around thee blaw, 
Thy bield should be my bosom, 

To share it a', to share it a'. 

Or were I in the wildest waste, 

Sae bleak and bare, sae bleak and bare, 
The desert were a Paradise, 

If thou wert there, if thou wert there ; 


Or were I monarch o' the globe, 

Wi' thee to reign, wi' thee to reign ; 
The brightest jewel in my crown 

Wad be my queen, wad be my queen. 

These verses, many years afterwards, when Jessie Lewars was a 
widow, attracted the regard of Felix Mendelssohn, who united them 
to an air of exquisite pathos.^ 

At the time when he composed these verses, Burns was in feeble 
health. During the six months of illness which preceded his death, 
Jessie Lewars ministered to him with an affectionate solicitude. 
Deeply grateful for her kind services, he made her the theme of 
the latter efforts of his Muse. 

As, in April 1796, he was handed by Miss Lewars on his sick-bed 
a refreshing draught, he inscribed with his diamond these lines 
upon the goblet : — 

Fill me with the rosy wine, 
Call a toast, a toast divine ; 
Give the Poet's darling flame, 
Lovely Jessie be her name ; 
Then thou mayest freely boast. 
Thou hast given a peerless toast. 

In one of his professional visits, Mr. Brown, the surgeon, brought 
to the Poet an advertising sheet setting forth the contents of a 
menagerie then being exhibited in the town. Kemarking that his 
amiable nurse was interested in the advertisement, he on the back 
of it inscribed with red pencil these lines : — 

1 Dr. Robert Chambers's Life and Works but "The Wren," No. 483 of Johnson's 

of Burns, vol. iv. 194, 195. According to Mr. ilfMsewm. -Library Edition of Burns's Works, 

Scott Douglas, the air which Jessie Lewars iii. 297 316. 
played was not "The Wren's Nest," No. 406, 


Talk not to mo of savages 

From Afric's burning sun ; 
No savage e'er could rend my heart, 

As, Jessie, thou hast done : 
But Jessie's lovely hand in mine, 

A mutual faith to plight, 
Not even to view the heavenly choir 

Would be 80 blest a sight ^ 

And so to the gentle attendant of his sick-chamber did the 
Poet continue to express his appreciation and gratitude in warm 
love-breatliings. Moved by her benevolence, he composed these 
stanzas : — 

Here's a health to ane I loe dear. 

Here's a health to ano I loo dear ; 
Thou art sweet as the smile when fond lovers meet, 

And soft as their parting tear — Jessie. 

Altho' thou maun never be mine, 

Altho' oven hope is denied ; 
'Tis sweeter for thee despairing, 

Than ought in the world beside —Jessie. 

I mourn thro' the gay, gaudy day. 

As hopeless I muse on thy charms ; 
But welcome the dream o' sweet slumber. 

For then I am lockt in thine arms— Jessie. 

I guess by the dear angel smile, 

I guess by the love-rolling e'e ; 
But why urge the tender confession 

'Gainst Fortune's fell, cruel decree 1 

Jessie fell sick, and the Poet indulged a more serious strain : — 

' TranscrilHHl from the original M.S. in possession of Mrs. Howat, Castlevicw, Stirling, gran<l- 
daiighter of Jej*sic Lewars. 


Say, sages, what's the charm on earth 

Can turn Death's dart aside ? 
It is not purity and worth, 

Else Jessie had not died. 

When his fair attendant recovered, his Muse awoke a strain of even 
loftier praise : — 

But rarely seen since IsTature's birth, 

The natives of the sky ; 
Yet still one seraph's left on earth. 

For Jessie did not die. 

During his illness the Poet despatched a letter to Mr. James 
Johnson, publisher of the Scots Musical Museum, which bears to 
have been delivered to him by post on the 17th June 1796. The 
letter concludes : — 

My wife has a very particular friend, a young lady who sings well, to whom 
she wishes to present the Scots Musical Museum. If you have a spare copy, 
will you be so obliging as to send it by the very first fly, as I am anxious to 
have it soon. 

To the request of the dying Bard his correspondent attended at 
once, and, on their reception at Dumfries, the volumes were forth- 
with placed in Miss Lewars's hands. On the back of the title-page 
of the first volume the Poet inscribed these lines : — 

Thine be the volumes, Jessie fair. 
And with them take the Poet's prayer : 
That Fate may in her fairest page. 
With ev'ry kindliest, best presage 
Of future bliss, enrol thy name : . 
With native worth and spotless fame, 
And wakeful caution, still aware 
Of ill — but chief man's felon snare ; 


AH blameless joys on earth wc fiml, 
And all the treasures of the mind — 
These bo thy guardian and reward ; 
So prays thy faithful friend, the Bard. 

B. BURN8.1 

Dumfries, June 2(]th, 1796. 

In the possession of Miss Lcvvars's family is a thin quarto volume 
by Dr. Wolcott, entitled *^ Pindannia^ by Peter Pindar, 1794," in- 
scribed "^ Madllc. J. Lewars, un petit gage de Vaniitie. R. Burns." 

To the close of the Poet's life Miss Lewars attended him with 
an affectionate solicitude, and some days before his death she and 
her brother received his four small boys into their dwelling. They 
were removed under the plea of securing quietness, but they were, 
subsequent to the Poet's death on the 21st July, kept under Miss 
Lcvvars's care till a movement on behalf of the Poet's family had 
made some progress. Kol)ert, the Poet's eldest sou, remained with 
the Lewars about a year. 

On the 3rd of June 1799 Miss Lewars was married to James 
Thomson, writer, Dumfries. At the great festival in honour of the 
sons of the Poet held near the Avr Monument, Mr. and Mrs. Thomson 
were assigned seats next to the Poet's relatives, on the right hand of 
the chairman. ]\Ir. Thomson died on the 5th ]\Iay 1849. Mrs. 
Thomson thereafter resided at Maxwelltown, near Dumfries, till her 
death, which took place on the 26th May 1855, when she had 
attained her seventy-seventh year. Her remains and those of her 
husband were deposited in St. Michael's Churchyard, near to the Poet's 
resting-place. There they are commemorated on a mural tablet. 

Of the marriacre of James Thomson and Jessie Lewars were born 
five sons and two daughters. The sons were James, born 1800, 

» From the original in the possession of Mrs. Howat. At the commencement of line 6th the Poet 
inadvertently substitutes "while " for " with." 


died in 1820; John, born 1802, who served his father in the 
writing business, and died in 1834; William, born 1805: he 
commanded a vessel in the merchant service, and died at the Cape 
of Good Hope on the 8th December 1858 ; Thomas, born 1st 
January 1810, and died August 1825; and Alexander, born 11th 
December 1814, and died 18th March 1859. 

The elder daughter, Mary, born 25th June 1807, married, 30th 
March 1840, George Montgomery, merchant, Dumfries, who died 
28th September 1843, with issue a son, George, and a daughter, 
Jessie Lewars. 

George, born 26th May 1843, is a merchant in Dundee. He 
married, first, Alice Walker, with issue a son and daughter ; secondly 
Isabella, daughter of David Niven, writer, Dundee, with issue a son 
and daughter. 

Jessie Lewars, only daughter of George Montgomery and Mary 
Thomson, spouses, married, 2nd April 1861, William Howat, mer- 
chant, Dumfries, now of Castleview, Stirling, with issue three sons 
and three daughters. 

Jessie, younger daughter of James Thomson and Jessie Lewars, 
was born 16th June 1816 ; she died unmarried in September 1877. 


During his Border tour in May 1787, the Poet was at Jedburgh 
attracted by a bright and graceful maiden, whom he thus 
introduces in his Journal : — 

Miss Lindsay, a good-lmmouved, amiable girl : rather short and embonpoint, 
but handsome and extremely graceful— beautiful hazel eyes, full of spirit and 
sparkling with delicious moisture— an engaging face, un tout ensemble that speaks 
her of the first order of female minds. 

rSr1 BFJ. Lrl L INDSA Y. 1 7 

These entries follow : — 

(iet hold of Miss Lindwiy's uriii . . . Miss seems very well pleased with my 
l)ardshii)'8 distinguislung her; and after some sliglit qualnis, which I could 
easily mark, slio sets the titter round at defiance, and kindly allows me to keep 
my hold. . . . Miss Lindsay and myself go to see Eslher^ a very remarkable 
woman for reciting jwetry of all kinds. ... I walk in Esther's * garden with 
Miss Lindsay, and after some little chit-chat of the tender kind, I presented her 
with a proof print of my noh^ which she accej)tcd with something more tender 

than gratitude. She told me many little stories which Miss had retailed 

concerning her and mo, with prolonging plca.sure — God bless her. 

In closing the narrative of his visit to Jedburgh, the Poet has 
these words : — 

Sweet Isabella Lindsay, may peace dwell in thy bosom, uninterrupted, 
except by the tumultuous throbbings of rapturous love ! That love-kindling 
eye must beam on another, not ou mc — that graceful form must bless another's 
arms, not mine. 

Daugliter of Dr. Robert Lindsay, by his wife Jean Gumming, 
Isabella Lindsay was born at Jedburgh on the 28th September 
1764.' Her father, who practised as a physician in the place, was 
dead at the time when the Poet met her, and she, along with a 
younger sister, Margaret, was then resident with a brother, who had 
as a physician succeeded to their father's medical practice. On the 
14th June 1787, thirty-four days after she had on the 11th of 
May parted with the Poet, Isabella was married to Mr. Adam 
Armstrong, her engagement with whom, well known in the locality, 
had induced some unamiable persons of her own sex, to keenly 
censure her easy manners with the Poet. With her husband, who 
was in the employment of the Russian Government, she left Jedburgh 

' Estlier Easton, the wife of a working gardener ; slie possessed aii ancommon memory and 
other gifts. 
' Jedburgh Parisli Kcgister. 


on the 4tli of July, and, embarking for Russia on the 17th of the 
month, they landed at St. Petersburg on the 10th of August. Mrs. 
Armstrong did not return to Scotland. She died young, leaving 
four children, of whom Samuel, the eldest, was born on the 21st 
April 1788.' Robert, the youngest son, became a general in the 
Russian service, and so lately as 1856 held office as Director of the 
Imperial Mint at St. Petersburg. Possessed by that gentleman's 
representatives is the historically interesting mansion at Jedburgh, 
known as Queen Mary's House, now occupied by Mr. A. C. Mounsey, 
master of tlie grammar school. 

Margaret Lindsay, Isabella's younger sister, described in his 
Border Journal by the Poet as "a bonnie, strappin', rosy, sonsie 
lass," died at Jedburgh not long after the Poet's visit, at the age 
of twenty -two. 


The noted "Black Agnes," Countess of Dunbar, succeeded in 1346 
to the lands of Cumnock in Ayrshire. These lands continued in 
the ownership of the Dunbars for a course of centuries, and from 
the last of these Ayrshire landowners James Logan of Lagwine, 
near Carsphairn in Galloway, purchased, about the middle of the 
eighteenth century, the small estate of Knockshinnoch, in the parish 
of New Cumnock. He married Margaret Begg, daughter of the laird 
of Domel, in the parish of Auchinleck. 

In the lands of Knockshinnoch James Logan was succeeded by 

^ Several of these facts and dates are obtained of Thomson's Seasons (Dublin, 1758), now in 
from family memoranda of Mr. and Mrs. Arm- the possession of Mr. Mounsey of the grammar 
strong inscribed inside the boards of a small copy school of Jedburgh. 


his son, John, who married Martha, only child of Captain Macadam 
of I^aight and Carca, on the banks of the Afton. On the death of 
his father-in-law he removed to the mansion of Laight, that estate 
immediately bordering his own possession. Inheriting vigorous 
|)()wcrs from his mother, he associated with persons of intelligence 
and culture. Burns was recommended to his notice by Gavin 
Hamilton, with whom he was on terms of intimacy. When the 
Poet was spending a few days at Kilmarnock in the beginning of 
August 178G, waiting upon the distribution of his first edition, he 
from thence despatched to Mr. Logan the following letter : — 

Sin, — I gratefully thank you fur your kind oflices in promoting my sub- 
scription, aiid still more for your very friendly letter — the first was doing me 
a favor, but the last was doing me an honor. I am in such a bustle at 
present, preparing for my West-India voyage, as I expect a letter every day 
from the master of the vessel, to repair directly to Greenock — that I am 
under a necessity to return you the subscription bills, and trouble you 
witli the (luantum of coj)ie3 till called for, or otherwise transmitted to the 
gentlemen who have subscribed. ... If orders from Greenock do not hinder, 
I intend doing myself the honor of waiting on you "Wednesday the 16th inst 
I am much hurt, sir, that I must trouble you with the copies; but, circum- 
stanced as I am, I kmnv ii" otlwr way your friruds can Iw sn]>]>liod. 

With Wx. Logan the Poet maintained a considerable intimacy ; 
he visited him occasionally during his frequent journeys between 
Ellisland and Mauchline. In a letter dated Ellisland, 7th Auoiist 
1789, he intimates that he has therewith transmitted for his private 
perusal his poem of " The Kirk's Alarm," remarking that it was the 
first copy he had sent into Ayrshire, excepting a few stanzas he had 
handed to Gavin Hamilton. The Poet also informs his correspon- 
dent that he had composed three and a half sUmzas of a poetical 
epistle to him, but that a prosaic mood had overcome him. The 
epistle was therefore not forthcoming, Imt to the copy of '* The 


Kirk's Alarm" were, for his friend's benefit, appended these 

lines : — 

Af ton's Laird ! Af ton's Laird ! 

When your pen can be spared, 
A copy of this I bequeath, 

On the same sicker score 

As I mention'd before, 
To that trusty auld worthy, Clackleith, 

Afton's Laird ! 
To that trusty auld worthy, Clackleith.. 

Burns continued, in the course of his rides to and from Ayrshire, 
to visit Mr. Logan at Laight, in Glen Afton, and during one of his 
visits, apparently in 1791, he composed his exquisite pastoral song, 
"Afton Water." 

Mr. Logan latterly resided at Ayr, where he died on the 
9th March 1816. Of his several children, John, the eldest son, a 
major in the army, succeeded him in his estates. Becoming heavily 
involved, he was under the necessity of alienating his possessions. 
His daughter married in 1834 Mr. John Dunbar of New Cumnock, 
and the event of their golden wedding was celebrated in 
February 1884. 


Jean Lorimer was a conspicuous heroine of the Poet's fancy. To 
her personal history we are introduced in the marriage register of 
Dumfries by the following entry: — "October 4, 1772. William 
Lorimer, merchant in this place, son to John Lorimer in the parish 
of Moffat, and Agnes Carson, daughter of John Carson, in the 
parish of Morton, proclaimed." As in 1775 we find William 
Lorimer resident with his family at Craigieburn, in the neighbour- 


hood of Moffat, it may be assumed that he had then or previously 
succeeded to his father's inlieritance — probably the lease of Craigie- 
burn farm. William Lorimer next appears as resident on the farm 
of Kemmis-hall on the Nith, about two miles below Ellisland. At 
that period, he, in addition to his business as a farmer, conducted 
merchnndise at Dumfries, dealing in spirits, tea, and other excisable 
articles. Consequent on his commercial relations, the Poet, who 
then protected the revenue interests of ten parishes, formed his 
acquaintance about the year 1790, and a warm intimacy ensued. 

Mrs. Lorimer's friendship was indeed not to be coveted. She 
largely imbibed whisky and other stimulants, and was frequently 
intoxicated. Presuming on her husband's intimacy with the Poet, 
she subjected him to the suspicion of illicit dealing, to an extent 
that a revenue officer might scarcely overlook. It is related that 
on one occasion the Poet was, through Mrs. Lorimer's impmdence, 
placed in circumstances in which his friendship was subjected to a 
considerable strain. Having arrived one evening at Mr. Lorimer's 
farm, he put up his horse, and, entering the house by the back door, 
passed into the kitchen. There he found Mrs. Lorimer and her 
maidens occupied in preparing tallow candles, then an article of 
Excise. Embarrassed by the spectacle, the Poet, with the remark, 
" You're thrang, I see," passed hastily into the parlour. 

Among the members of Mr. Lorimer's family circle his daughter 
Jean attracted the kindly notice both of the Poet and his wife. 
Jean Lorimer was born in September 1775, when her parents were 
resident at Craigieburn ; consequently, when the Poet and his wife 
formed her acquaintance in 1791, she was in her sixteenth year. 
She was then peculiarly engaging. Tall of stature and of graceful 
proportions, she was of a delicate complexion, while her light blue 
eyes dazzled by the warmth of her manners. Among her other 
admirers was Mr. John Gillespie, a brother officer of the Poet, 


settled at Dumfries. Kevealing his attachment to the Poet, he 
proceeded on his friend's behalf to celebrate his charmer. In 
allusion to the romantic spot of her birth, his verses began : — 

Sweefc closes the ev'ning on Craigieburn Wood, 

And blythely awaukens the morrow ; 
But the pride o' the spring in the Craigieburn Wood 

Can yield me nought but sorrow. 

At a subsequent period, Burns, on the suggestion of Mr. George 
Thomson, produced the song in an amended version, being that 
included in the ordinary editions of his works. In the new version 
the song commences thus : — 

Sweet fa's the eve on Craigieburn, 

And blythe awakes the morrow ; 
But a' the pride o' spring's return 

Can yield me nocht but sorrow. 

By the Poet other songs followed, addressed to his friend's fair 
enslaver. These included the stanzas beginning, "Come, let me 
take thee to my breast," and the song " Poortith Cauld." The latter 
contains these two verses in gentle allusion to the rejection of her 
suitor on account of his poverty : — 

Her e'en sae bonnie blue betray 

How she repays my passion ; 
But prudence is her o'erword aye, 

She talks o' rank and fashion. 

How blest the simple cotter's fate ! 

He woos his artless dearie 5 
The silly bogles, wealth and state, 

Can never make him eerie. 

If the fliir inspirer of the Poet's muse was inclined more to 
reciprocate the affection of an opulent than of a sincere and 


unsophisticated lover, she was in her election doomed to a sad and 
bitter disappointment. A young man named Whelpdale, from the 
county of Cumberland, had, as a farmer, settled at Barnhill, near 
Moffat. At the residence of a neighbour, Mr. Johnston, farmer at 
Drumcrieff, wliere Miss Lorimer chanced to be on a visit, Mr. 
Whelpdale met her. Smitten by her charms, he professed his 
attachment, and his love was reciprocated. After a brief acquaint- 
ance, he one evening in March 1793 took her aside, and, protesting 
he could no longer live apart from her society, persuaded her t<» 
(lope with him to Gretna Green, that there they might be married. 
I Relieving that her husband's prosperity would sufficiently condone 
the offence of an irregular marriage, she unhappily listened to the 
solicitation made to her. At Gretna she became the wife of one 
who, then on the verge of bankniptcy, was hopelessly reckless, 
prodigal, and extravagant. The married pair returned to Banihill, 
l)ut, after an interval of a few months, Mr. Whelpdale absconded 
from his creditors, leaving his deeply-injured wife no alternative 
but to seek shelter under the parental roof There ensued the usual 
desertion, which disappointed neighbours mete out to the victims of 
imprudence. Burns was true. In his former heroine he recognised 
<»ne who had become unfortunate because she was trustful, and she 
was still his Chloris. In his ode beginning, " Sae flaxen were her 
ringlets," he particularly celebrates her charms. 

Unfortunate as an agriculturist, also in his c-oninicrcial relations, 
William Lorimer removed from Kcmmis-hall to Dumfries. Miss 
Lorimer, as she elected to be called, ignoring her wedded name, now 
became a regular visitor in the Poet's family ; and the Poet's wife, 
whose Christian name was the same as her own, viewed without a 
spark of jealousy the compliments lavished in verse by her husband 
upon the younger Jean, in the hope that these tributes to her 
beauty might in some degree mitigate her great sorrow. 


The song of " Whistle, an' I'll come to you, my lad," though 

associated with other heroines, was actually inspired by Miss 

Lorimer. She also became the theme of the songs commencing, 

"Behold, my love, how green the groves;" "0, bonnie was yon 

rosy brier ; " and " Forlorn, my love, no comfort near." When Miss 

Lorimer was sick, the Poet addressed her in the ode commencing 

with the verse, — 

Can I cease to care, 

Can I cease to languish, 

While my darling fair 

Is on the couch of anguish % 

In reference to the inspiration derived from the charms of his 
Chloris, the Poet wTites to Mr. Thomson, in October 1794 : — 

The lady on whom it [" Craigieburn Wood "] was made is one of the finest 
women in Scotland; and, in fact {enire nous), is in a manner to me what 
Sterne's Eliza was to him, — a mistress, or friend, or what you will, in the guile- 
less simplicity of Platonic love. ... I assure you that to my lovely friend you 
are indebted for many of your best songs of mine. . . . Whenever I want to be 
more than ordinary in song — to be in some degree equal to your diviner airs, 
... I have a glorious recipe ... I put myself in the regimen of admiring 
a fine woman. . . . The lightning of her eye is the godhead of Parnassus, and 
the witchery of her smile the divinity of Helicon ! 

The latter history of Burns's connexion with the Lorimer family 
is somewhat uncertain. In August 1795, when the Poet was 
visited by his friend, Mr. Robert Cleghorn, accompanied by two 
other Midlothian farmers, he invited to meet them Mr. Syme, 
Dr. Maxwell, and Dr. Mundell, also Mr, Lorimer and his daughter 
Jean. The note of invitation addressed to Mr. Lorimer is in the 
Library edition of the Poet's Works printed for the first time. It 
proceeds thus : — 

My Dear Sir, — I called for you yesternight, both at your own house and 
at your favorite lady's, Mrs. Hyslop of the Globe, but could not find you. I 


want you to dino with me to-day, I liave two honest Midlothian fanners with 
tno who liavo travelled threescore miles to renew old friondship with the Poet ; 
and I promise you a pleasant party, a plateful of hotch-potch, and a Ituftlo of 
good souml port. 

Mrs. Burns desired mo ye8tenii>,'ht to Ijeg the favor of Jeuny to come and 
partake with her, and she was so o])liging as to promise that she would. Jeany 
and you (Mr. Synie, Dr. Maxwell, and Dr. Mundell) an- all the people, besides 
my Kdinburgh friends, whom I wish to see ; and if you can come I shall take 
it very kiiitl. (Dinner at three.) — Yours, Robert Durns. 

Witli the Lorimer family the Poet's intimacy waned. Writing 
1«) Air. Thomson in February 1796, Burns uses these words : — 

In my by-past songs I di.«!like one thing, — the name Chloris. I meant it as 
the fictitious name of a certain lady ; but, on second thoughts, it is a high 
incongruity to have a Greek appellation to a Scottish pastoral ballad. Of this 
and some things else in my next : I have more amendments to propose. What 
you mentioned of "flaxen locks" is just; they cannot enter into an elegant 
description of beauty. 

'i'he Lorimers sank into poverty. As a family governess, Miss 
Lorimer was employed in a succession of families. In 181G she 
visited her l)rotlier in Sunderland, and on her return inquired at 
Brampton for her husband, and found that she had missed him only 
by a few hours, since he had been that day in the village. Already 
lie had wasted four fortunes, and was now engaged in squandering a 
filth. Soon afterwards his long-deserted wife learned that he was in 
I he debtors' prison at Carlisle, and there went to see him. The circum- 
stances of her visit are by l^r. Robert Chambers related thus : — 

Having announced to him her wish for an interview, she went to the place 
where he was confined, and was desired to walk in. His lotlging was pointed 
out to her on the opposite side of a quadrangle, round which there was a 
covered walk, as in the ambulatories of the ancient religious houses. As she 
walked along one side of this court, she passed a man whose back was towards 
her — a bulky-looking person, slightly paralytic, and who shuflled in talking as 
VOL. n. 1> 


from lameness. As she approached the door she heard the man pronounce her 
name, "Jean," he said, and then immediately added, as under a more formal 
feeling, "Mrs. Whelpdale!" It was her husband, the gay youth of 1793, 
being now transformed into a broken-down, middle-aged man, whom she had 
passed without even suspecting who he was. The wife had to ask the figure if 
he was her husband, and the figure answered that he was. To such a scene 
may a romantic marriage lead ! There" was kindness, nevertheless, between the 
long-separated pair. Jean spent a month in Carlisle, calling upon her husband 
every day, and then returned to Scotland. Some months afterwards, when he 
had been liberated, she paid him another visit ; but his utter inability to make 
a prudent use of any money entrusted to him rendered it quite impossible that 
they should ever renew their conjugal life. After this she never saw him 

According to Dr. Chambers, the Poet's Chloris at length fell 
into an error by which she forfeited the respect of society. For 
some years she led a kind of wandering life, bordering on mendi- 
cancy. About the year 1825 a benevolent gentleman interested 
himself on her behalf by making known her circumstances in the 
public journals. His wife, having sent to her some newspapers 
containing the paragraphs written on her account, received in 
acknowledo-ment the followiuGj note : — 

Burns's Chloris is infinitely obliged to [Mrs. for her kind attention in 

sending the newspapers, and feels pleased and flattered by having so much said 
and done in her behalf. Kuth was kindly and generously treated by Boaz ; 
perhaps Burns's Chloris may enjoy a similar fate in the fields of men of talent 
and worth. March 2, 1825. 

Some time afterw^ards Mrs. Whelpdale obtained the situation 
of housekeeper with a gentleman in Newington ; and while so 
employed she expressed herself as enjoying greater comfort than she 
had experienced since she had left the parental home. At length 
she was attacked by a severe pulmonary ailment, and was obliged 
to retire \o a humble lodging in Middleton's Entry, Potterrow, 


where she was supported by her late employer. After a period of 
severe suffering, she breutlicd her last in Septemhor 1831 ; she had 
uttuined her fifty-sixth year. Ilcr remains were interred in the 
Nowiiigtoii Imrial-ground. Her husl)an<l, wlio latterly subsisted on 
a .small ponsimi at Langholm in nuinfricssliin' ^<l^•v!vod her by a 
few years. 

To the close of life the heroine of so many of the Poet's songs 
retained her native comeliness. Abundantly intelligent, she excelled 
ill convei-sation, and could restrain with difliculty that play of 
liumour which had distinguished her youth, and which the dis- 
appointments and misfortunes of n life ]i;i<l not crMdicut^Ml. 


(Jkorcje JMaukland conducted business at Mauchlinc as a general 
dealer ; he sold articles of grocery, dealt in drapery, and, by keeping 
several cows, became one of the village dairymen. Among the 
general tradei-a at IMauchline there prevailed an unpleasant rivalry, 
and, consef[ucnt on its existence, Markland experienced from one or 
two of his neighbours considerable hostilities ; but he was generally 
esteemed as a fair dealer and creditable townsman. He married, in 
August 17GI, Agnes Shaw, of the parish of Craigic,^ and had issue. 
His daughter Jean, born on the 20th October 1765,* was celebrated 
by the Poet in 1784 in his "Belles of Mauchline :" she is by the 
Bard characterized as " divine." On the IGth Septeml)er 1788 Miss 
Markland married Mr. James Findlay, Excise officer at Tarbolton," a 
native of the district. Mr. Findlay was subsequently resident at 
Greenock ; he obtained some reputation as a poet. 

' Mauchline Parish Register. * Ihid. * llnd. 



A NATIVE of Ayrshire, John Mackenzie studied medicine at the 
University of Edinburgh, and was induced to commence medical 
practice in the viUage of Mauchline on the invitation of Sir John 
Whitefoord, Bart. His acquaintance with the Poet's family com- 
menced at Lochlea in the early spring of 1783, when he paid a 
professional visit to William Burnes, then in a state of failing health. 
His impressions of the Bard on the occasion of this visit he has 
detailed in a letter to Professor Walker, written in 1810. In this 
letter he writes thus : — 

The Poet seemed distant, suspicious, and without any wish to interest or 
please. He kept himself very silent in a dark corner of the room ; and before 
he took any part in the conversation, I frequently detected him scrutinizing me 
during my conversation with his father and brother. But afterwards, when the 
conversation, which Avas on a medical subject, had taken the turn he wished, he 
began to engage in it, displaying a dexterity of reasoning, an ingenuity of 
reflection, and a familiarity with topics apparently beyond his reach, by which 
his visitor was no less gratified than astonished. 

Dr. Mackenzie proceeds : — 

From the period of which I speak, I took a lively interest in Robert Burns ; 
and before I was acquainted with his poetical powers, I perceived that he possessed 
very great mental abilities, an uncommonly fertile and lively imagination, a 
thorough acquaintance with many of our Scottish poets, and an enthusiastic 
admiration of Kamsay and Fergusson. Even then, on subjects Avith which ho 
was acquainted, his conversation was rich in Avell-chosen figures, animated and 
energetic. Indeed, I have always thought that no person could have a just idea 
of the extent of Burns's talents who had not had an opportunity to hear him 
converse His discrimination of character was great beyond that of any person 


I over knew ; and I have often observed to liim that it seemed to bo intuitive. 
I seldom ever knew him make a false estimate of clmractcr, when ho formed the 
opinion from his own observation, and not from the representation of {Ksrsons 
to wliom he was partial, 

AVlieu the 1N)L'1 ciileretl nii ihc ot i\lo.->r*^i(l, Dr. Ma« nrii/.n- 
met him frequently, and a warm intimacy ensued. Depute Mtuster 
of St. James' Lodge, Tarliolton, the Poet summoned him, as a 
brother Mason, to attend a grand procession which had been 
arranged to take phice on the 24th June 1786, being the Festival 
of the Nativity of the Baptist. The Poet's summons was in these 
lines : — 

Friday first's the day ai)pointt'd 
By the Right Worshipful anointeil, 
To hold our grand procession ; 
To get a blail o' Johnie's morals, 
And tiiste a swatch o' Manson's barn-lx, 

r the way of our profession. 
The Master and the Brotherhood 
Would a' be glad to see you ; 
For me, I would be mair than pi-oud 
To share the mercies wi' you. 

If Death, then, wi' skaith, then 

Some mortal heart is hochtin ; ' 
Inform him, and storm him, 

That Saturday you'll fecht him. 

To these lines are appended as a date, "JNIossgiel, An. M., 
5790." The 'Mohnie" of the verses was the kindly surgeon him- 
self, who had lately broached some views as to the origin of morals. 
To some controversial opinions, written or printed, he had appended 
the signature of ** Common-sense," an appellative by which the Poet 

* Threatening. 


afterwards distinguished him. In " The Holy Fair," Dr. Mackenzie 
is introduced thus : — 

" Common-sense'/' has ta'cn the road, 
An' off, an' up the Cowgate, 

Fast, fast, that day.^ 

A copy of " The Holy Fair " Dr. Mackenzie showed in MS. to Dr. 
Hugh Blair, whom he met at Barskimming, the Ayrshire seat of 
Thomas Miller, advocate, subsequently Lord President. In a letter 
to Dr. Mackenzie, Dr. Blair expressed himself as "much pleased," 
remarking that the poem " contained some of the finest and justest 
description he had ever seen."^ 

On Sunday, the 3rd September 1786, Burns sent to Dr. 
Mackenzie a first draft of his stanzas entitled " The Calf," composed 
at the expense of a reverend preacher Mdio had that day conducted 
service in Mauchline church. The MS. w^as accompanied by a note 
beginning, "Dr. Sir," and ending, "Yours, Robt. Burns." 

Not long afterwards, the Mauchline surgeon embraced a suitable 
opportunity of making the Poet know^n personally to Professor 
Dugald Stewart, who was then residing in his villa at Catrine, about 
two miles distant. The Professor invited the physician and the 
Poet to dine w^th liis family on the 23rd October, and on the 
occasion Lord Daer formed one of the company. To Dr. Mackenzie 
the Poet, in about a week afterwards, enclosed his lines " On Meeting 
with Lord Daer," which on the same sheet was accompanied by the 
following letter : — 

^ The Cowgate is a street running off the engaged to meet Sir John Whitcfoord, and to 
main thoroughfare in Mauchline, immediately accompany him to dine with the Earl of Dum- 
opposite the entrance to the churchyard. fries at Dumfries House, in the parish of 
According to a local tradition, on the particular Auchinleck. With this known purpose, the 
day the Toet had in view, Dr. Mackenzie was Doctor M-as remarked to leave the assembly. 
^ Dr. Mackenzie's letter to Professor Walker. 


Wednemlay Munnng. 

Dkau Siu, — I never spent an afternoon among great folks with half that 
lileasure as when, in company with you, I had the honor oi paying my devoirs to 
that plain, honest, worthy man, the Professor : I would be delighted to see him 
perform acts of kindness and friendship, though I were not the object : he does 
it with such a grace. I think his character, divided into ten parts, stands thus : 
four pints Socrates, four parts Xathanael, and two parts Shakespeare's Brutus. 

The foregoing verses were really extempore, but a little corrected smce. 
They may entertain you a little with the help of that partiality with which you 
are so good as to favour the performances of, J^ear Sir, your very humble servant. 

Anticiputory of the Poet's journey to Edinburgli at the close of 
November, Dr. ]\Iackenzie addressed on his l)elialf recommendatory 
letters to Sir John Whitefoord and the Hon. Andrew Erskine. The 
hitter, a brother of the Earl of Kelly, and usually known as Captain 
Erskine, was an accomplished musician, and was otherwise much 
esteemed in Edinburgh society. But the Poet experienced from Sir 
John Whitefoord a special attention. With reference to his active 
friendship, he in a letter to Dr. JMackenzie, written fiom Edinburgh 
on the 11th January 1787, writes thus : — 

My Deau Sir, — Yours gave me something like the pleasure of an old 
friend's face. I saw your friend, and my honoured patron, Sir John Whitefoord, 
just after I read your letter, and gave him your respectful compliments. He 
was pleased to say many handsome things of you, which I heard with the more 
satisfaction, as I know theui to be just. 

The letter concludes : — " A gentleman waited on me yesterday, and 
gave me, by Lord Eglintoun's order, ten guineas by way of sub- 
scription for a brace of copies of my second edition." 

When, a few years afterwards. Lord Eglinton removed his chief 
residence from Coilsfield to Eglinton Castle, he induced Dr. 
Mackenzie, as his fiimily physician, to settle at Irvine. There the 
Doctor took an active concern in local affairs, and atUiined the 
highest magisterial honours. In 1827 he retired from practice, and 


settled in Edinburgh, where he died on the 11th January 1837, at 
an advanced age. When practising at Mauchline, it was his 
privilege to professionally attend the Countess of Loudoun, widow 
of the third Earl, a gentlewoman who was born in 1677, during the 
reign of Charles 11. , and whose life extended to one hundred years. 

When Dr. Mackenzie entered on professional business at 
Alauchline, he rented a small shop, which served as his drug store 
and consulting room, while he was content to lodge at the Sun Inn, 
a small hostelry, kept by John Miller, a respectable joiner. By his 
wife, Sarah Templeton, Miller had several children, these including 
two daughters, celebrated by the Poet in his "Mauchline Belles." 
Of these, Elizabeth, born in January 1768, married, on the 8th 
September 1794, William Templeton, a merchant in the place ;^ 
she died on the birth of her first child. Helen, another of the 
" belles," became the wife of Dr. Mackenzie, their marriage being 
solemnized on the 29th August 1791.^ To her husband she brought 
a large dowry, consequent on her becoming heir of her brother, 
Alexander, who made a fortune in India. A son of the marriage, 
John Whitefoord Mackenzie, became a Writer to the Signet, and 
attained eminence as a literary and antiquarian collector ; he died 
at Edinburgh on the 8th November 1884, at an advanced age. 


The lands of Masterton, lying in the parish of Dunfermline, are so 
designated from the Anglo-Saxon Maestertun, signifying the habita- 
tion of the master. Under the former name of Ledmacduneail, the 

. * Mauchline Parish Register. » Hid. 


lands were granted by Malcolm IV. to the monks of Dunfermline/ 
Among the bjirons who in 129G swore fealty to Edward I., apiKjars 
William dc Mastcrton. A descendant of the family, Margaret, 
daughter of Alexander Masterton of the lands of Bad and Parkmill, 
in the county of Perth, and wife of Mr. Jiunes Primrose, was nurse 
to Prince Henry, eldest son of James VI., for which service she and 
her huslxmd received a pension during their lives. On the 20th 
January 1591-92 Captiiin Robert Masterton of Pittcnwecm appears 
as pursuer in a legal process.' In a process are named, on the 28th 
I'ebruary 1591-92, John Masterton of Broughton, and Edmund, his 
son and heir.'' On the 15th March 1595 GiU>ert Masterton tmi- 
chant in Edinburgh, is mentioned in a bond.* 

A branch of the Masterton family settled in the county of 
Linlithgow. On the 3rd April 1585 Archibald Masterton, of the 
jjarish of Abercom, had his daughter Agnes baptized.* Alexander 
Masterton, merchant, and one of the magistrates of Linlithgow, 
married, in February 1G91, Margaret Glen; they had on the 5th 
February 1693 a daughter, Marion, baptized.* On the 29th 
Novemlwr 1702 Thomas Masterton, merchant in Linlithgow, had a 
son, Robert, baptized.' At Linlithgow, on the 23rd February 1735, 
Archilwdd Masterton, son of Archibald Masterton, miller in Wrae 
Mill, and Helen West, relict of William Jamieson, tenant in Wrae, 
had their banns of marriage proclaimed.' 

From the Linlithgowshire family derived Allan Masterton, who, 
when Burns resided in Edinburgh, exercised the vocation of a 
writing-master in Stevenlaw's Close, High Street. From this oflBce 

' (.'hnrtnlary ol iiuiiiriniuiif, p, 23. * Ih'vi. 

» General Register of Dcods, vol. xxxix. ' Ihid. For further particulars respecting the 

* Ihid., vol. xxxix. fol. 208. Masterton fauuly, see Otnealogy of MoAfertoH 

* Ibid., vol. li. oj that Ilk; rarhnUl, etc., privately priuted, 

* Abcrcorn Tarish Krpister. -Ito, 1878. 

* Linlitlij^iiw Tarish Kvgister. 

VOL. 11. E 


he was by the Town Council, on the 26th August 1795, promoted as 
teacher of writing in the High School, conjointly with his brother 
Dugald, and his nephew, Dugald Masterton, junior. 

To his skill as a writing-master, Allan Masterton added an 
acquaintance with the national minstrelsy ; he was also accomplished 
as a musical composer. With the Poet he became acquainted on the 
introduction of William Nicol, and the acquaintance ripened into a 
warm friendship. In the autumn of 1789 Nicol took lodgings at 
Willie's Mill, a place situated in the vicinity of Moffat, and there he 
was waited on by the Poet, accompanied by Masterton, who had 
been on a visit to Dalswinton. The jollities of the occasion induced 
the Poet to compose his song of " Willie brew'd," which was set 
to music by Masterton. He is the Allan of the song. In his letter 
to Captain Riddel, dated 16th October 1789, the Poet describes 
Masterton as " one of the worthiest men in the world, and a man of 
real genius." 

Among other tunes composed by Allan Masterton for Burns's 
songs were those to " Strathallan's Lament," " The Braes o' Balloch- 
myle," " The Bonnie Birks o' Ayr," and " On hearing a Young 
Lady sing." In compliment to Mr. Masterton's daughter, Anne, the 
Poet composed the song beginning, " Ye gallants bright, I rede ye 
right," to which the young lady's father added the music. Anne 
Masterton married Dr. Derbishire, who practised as a physician, first 
at Bath and afterwards in London. She was living in London in 
1834; the date of her death is unknown. Her son, Stewart 
Derbishire, became Queen's Printer at Quebec ; he died there on the 
27th March 1863. 

Allan Masterton died in 1799. 

RE V. J 01 IN M'MA Til. 35 


John M'Matii wa.s licciirtcd to preach l)y the Presbytery of Ayr on 
the 5tli July 1779, and on the IGth May 1782 was admitted 
assistant and successor to the Rev. Patrick Wodrow, minister at 
Tarbolton. Both he and his constituent, Mr. Wodrow, belonged to 
the Moderate school, and hence in " The Twa Herds " the Poet 
writes : — 

AulJ Wodrow laug has hatch'd mischief ; 

"We thought ayo death wad bring relief, 

But ho has gotten, to our grief, 

Ane to succeed him, 

A chiold wha'll soundly butf our liecf ; 
I meikle dread him. 

Enjoying the Poet's intimacy, Mr. M'Math begged him for a 
copy of " Holy Willie's Prayer." This he sent to Mr. M'Math on 
the 17th September 1785, accompanied by a poetical epistle of 
sixteen stanzas. In reference to his correspondent personally the 

Poet has these lines : — 

O Ayr ! my dear, my native ground, 
Within thy presbyterial bound 
A candid liberal band is found 

Of public teachers, 
As men, as Christians too, renown'd. 

An' manly preachers. 

Sir, in that circle you are nain'd ; 
Sir, in that circle you are fam'd ; 
An' some, by whom your doctrine's blam'd 

(Which gies ye honor). 
Even, sir, by them your heart's esteemed, 

An' winning manner. 


Pardon this freedom 1 have ta'en, 
An' if impertinent I've been, 
Impute it not, good sir, in ane 

Wliase heart ne'er wrang'd ye, 
But to his utmost would befriend 

Ought that belang'd ye. 

Having fallen into convivial habits incompatible with the ministerial 
office, Mr. M'Math demitted his charge on the 21st December 
1791. Kctiring to Rossul, in the Isle of Mull, he there lived 
in obscurity. He died on the 10th December 1825, about the age 
of seventy. 


There is a tradition that the first of the Maxwell name was a 
Norwegian in the suite of Edgar Atheling and his sister, on their 
arrival in the Frith of Forth two years after the Norman Conquest. 
This is probably mythical ; but the name is clearly of Saxon origin. 
A territory on the Tweed, near Kelso, is known as Maccus Well, 
and the owner of this portion of land was in all probability founder 
of the family. Eugene or Hugh Maccuswel, of Carlaverock, was 
present at the siege of Alnwick in 1093, as a follower of Malcolm 
Canmore. Sir John de Maccuswel was sheriff of Roxburgh and 
Teviotdale in 1207, and in 1215 was sent as ambassador to 
King John ; he was also chamberlain of Scotland. His repre- 
sentatives attained large possessions, also civil dignities and 
military honours. 


Sir IIerl)crt Mux well of Carlavcrock was knighted at the 
coronation of James I. in 1424, and was some years afterwards 
created a Lord of l^arliamcnt. Ili.s descendant, Sir John Maxwell, 
second son of Rol)ert, fifth Lord Maxwell, married in 1549 Agnes, 
Lady IlerricH, and, in right of his wife, was allowed the title and 
dignity of fourth Lord Herries. Attached to the cause of Queen 
Mary, he contended on her behalf at Langside, and subsequently 
assisted in her escape. He afterwards pleaded the cause of the 
imprisoned (|ueen before the English Commissioners at York. His 
ii;r!inds()n, John, sixth Lord Herries, who died in 1631, married 
Elizabeth, eldest daughter of John, seventh Lord Maxwell, and of 
the union were born eight sons. James Maxwell, the second son, 
styled of Breconside, married Margaret, daughter of Vaus of 
Barnbarroch, relict of Sir John Gordon of Lochinvar, who bore 
him two sons. Of these, John, the elder, inherited the lands of 
Breconside and Terraughty. The son of this gentleman, who had 
the same Christian name, became involved in financial ditlicultics, to 
tlie entire impoverishment of his family. His younger son, John, 
was born at Buittle on the 7th of February 1720, old style. 
Apprenticed to a joiner at Dumfries, he, on attaining a sufficient 
knowledge of his craft, entered upon business in the place as an 
upliolsterer and builder. Applying to his vocation the energies of 
a powerful understanding, he rapidly accumulated substance, and, 
when only in his thirty-fourth year, he was enabled to repurchase 
the family estate of Terraughty, which had been alienated. He 
subsequently purchased the lands of Portrack, in the parish of 
Holywood, and, by his second marriage, became proprietor of 
Munches. When Burns settled in Dumfriesshire, he was a recosr- 
nised leader in county affairs, and was also highly esteemed for 
his personal virtues. At what time the Poet formed his acquaint- 
ance has not been ascertained, but it is evident that he had become 


personally familiar with his worth when, in 1791, on his seventy - 
first birthday, he addressed to him the following epistle : — 

Health to the Maxwell's veteran Chief ! 
Health, aye unsour'd by care or grief : 
Inspired I turn'd Fate's sibyl leaf 

This natal morn ; 
I see thy life is stuff o' prief, 

Scarce quite half-worn. 

This day thou metes threescore eleven, 
And I can tell that bounteous Heaven 
(The second-sight, ye ken, is given 

To ilka poet) 
On thee a tack o' seven times seven 

Will yet bestow it. 

If envious buckies view wi' sorrow 

Thy lengthen'd days on this blest morrow, 

May Desolation's lang-teeth'd harrow. 

Nine miles an hour, 
Rake them, like Sodom and Gomorrah, 

In brunstane stoure. 

But for thy friends, and they are mony, 
Baith honest men and lassies bonnie. 
May couthie Fortune, kind and cannie. 

In social glee, 
Wi' mornings blithe, and e'enings funny. 

Bless them and thee. 

Farewell, auld birkie ! Lord be near ye, 
And then the deil he dauma steer ye : 
Your friends aye love, your faes aye fear ye ; 

For me, shame fa' me, 
If neist my heart I dinna wear ye. 

While Burns they ca' me. 


The Poet's vaticination as to his friend's longevity was in a 
measure realized, for his life was extended till he reached the 
pjitriarolml age of ninety-four.* On the 8th February 1811, while 
in hi.s ninety-first year, he addressed a letter to Mr. W. M. Ilerrics 
of Spottes, detailing his early recollections as to the agricultural 
condition of his neighbourhood. From that letter, which is 
included in the New Statistical Account of the parish of Buittle, 
we present a copious excerpt. Referring to the years 1735 or 
1740, he proceeds : — 

It is not pleasant to represent the wrotchcd state of individuals as times then 
wont in Scotland. The tenants '\n genonil lived very meanly on kail, groats, 
milk, graddon ground in (pierns turned by the hand, and the grain dried in a 
pot, together with a crook ewe now and then about Martinmas. They were 
clothed very plainly, and their habitations were most uncomfortable. Their 
general wear was of cloth, made of waulkcd plaiding, black and white wool 
mixed, very coarse, and the cloth rarely dyed. Their hose wore made of white 
plaiding cloth sewed together, with single-soled shoes, and a black or blue 
bonnet — none having hats but the lairds, who thought themselves very well 
dressed for going to church on Sunday with a black kclt-coat of their wife's 
making. It is not proper for me here to narrate the distress and poverty that 
were felt in the country during these times, which continued till about the year 
1735. In 1725 potatoes were first introtluccd into this stewartry by William 
Hyltuid from Ireland, who carried them on horses* backs to Edinburgh, where 
he sold them by pounds and ounces. During these times when potatoes wero 
not generally raised in the country, there was, for the most part, a great 
scarcity of food, bonlering on famine ; for in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright 
and county of Dumfries there was not as much victual produced as was 
neccssjxry for sup])lying the iidiabitants, and tlic chief |)art of what was required 
for that purpose was brought from the sand-beds of Esk in tumbling core, on 
the Wednesdays, to Dumfries ; and when the waters were high, by reason of 
s})ates, and there being no bridges, so that these cars could not come with the 

' In liis first ballad on Mr. Heron's olectiou, in 1795, the Poet distiuguishes Mr. Maxirell m 
"Tcngh Jockic." 


meal, I have seen the tradesmen's wives in the streets of Dumfries crying 
because there was none to be got. At that period there was only one baker in 
Dumfries, and he made bawbee baps of coarse flour, chiefly bran, which ho 
occasionally carried in creels to the fairs of Urr and Kirkpatrick. The produce 
of the country in general was grey corn, and you might have travelled from 
Dumfries to Kirkcudbright, which is twenty-seven miles, without seeing any 
other grain, except in a gentleman's croft, which, in general, produced bear or 
big for one-third part, another third in white oats, and the remaining third in 
grey oats. At that period there was no wheat raised in the country ; what was 
used was brought from Teviot, and it was believed that the soil would not 
produce wheat. In the year 1735 there was no mill in the country for 
grinding that sort of grain, and the first flour-mill that was constructed in 
these bounds was built by old Heron at Clouden, in the parish of Irongray, 
some years after that date. In these times cattle were also very low. I 
remember of being present at the Bridge-end of Dumfries in 1736, when 
Anthony M'Kie of Netherlaw sold five score of five-year-old Galloway cattle, 
in good condition, to an Englishman at £2, 12s. 6d. each; and old Kobert 
Halliday, who was tenant of a great part of the Preston estate, told me that he 
reckoned he could graze his cattle on his farms for 2s. 6d. a head — that is to 
say, that his rent corresponded to that sum. At this period few of the pro- 
prietors gave themselves any concern anent the articles of husbandry — their 
chief one being about black cattle. William Craik, Esq., of Arbigland's father 
died in 1735, and his son was a man of uncommon accomplishments, who, in 
his younger days, employed his time in grazing of cattle, and studying the 
shapes of the best kinds — his father having given him the farm of Maxwell- 
town to live upon. The estate of Arbigland was then in its natural state, very 
much covered with whins and broom, and yielding little rent, being only about 
3000 merks a year.i That young gentleman was among the first that undertook 
to improve the soil ; and the practice of husbandry, which he pursued, together 
with the care and trouble which he took in ameliorating his farm, was very 
great. Some of it he brought to such perfection, by clearing off all weeds and 
stones, and pulverized it so completely, that I, on walking over the surface, 
sank as if I had trodden on new-fallen snow. 

The estate of Arbigland Avas bought by his grandfather in 1722, from the 
Earl of Southesk, for 22,000 merks. 

^ Eighteen merks make £1 sterling, or £12 Scots. 


In Yl'Sh tluru wuiu i*nly twu carU fur hiro in the towu uf Duml'ticit, uml one 
bcluuging to a private gontloinan. 

About the ycara 1737 and 1738 thoro was almoat no lime used for building 
in Dumfries except a little shell-lime, made of cockleshells, buniod at Colvend, 
and brought to Dumfries in bags, a distance of twenty miles; ond in. 1740, 
when Provost Bell built his house, the un<ler storey wus built with cluy, and 
the upper storeys with lime, brought from Wliitehaven in dry-waro casks. 
There was then no lime used for improving the land. In 1749 I had day- 
labourers at 6d. jier day, and the best masons at Is. This was at tlu- ImiMin^ 
of MoUance House — the walls of which cost £49 sterling. 

Mr. Maxwell died on the 25th Juiiiuiry 1814. lie \v;ts luicc 
married. By his first wife, Agues, daughter of Mr. William Ilaunay 
of Dumfries, he had three sons and six daughters. lie married, 
secondly, in 1770, Agnes Maxwell, daughter of the hiird "f 
Munches. The marriage was at first privately contracted, pro- 
bably to avoid some opposition on the part of the lady's relatives. 
But Mr. Maxwell, who was unwilling to innovate on the usual 
practice of the Church, submitted himself to reproof, and had his 
marriage solcmni;jed in the ordinary form. The minute of the kirk- 
session of Buittle in relation to the afitiir is not without interest : — 

Biiittk Manse, February 24, 1770. — Post Preces, sederunt — Minister and 
Elders met in hunc effechon. John Maxwell of Terrachty and Mistris Agnes 
Maxwell of ^lunches called and compeared, and being asked, acknowledged 
themselves married; but not protlucing legal vouchers of their marriage, they 
submitted to censure, and solemnly promising all fidelity to ono another as 
husband and wife, they were formally married by the Motlcrator ; after which 
they paid their fine to the Session, and all other dues genteelly, and were 

In 1703, Mrs. Agnes Maxwell succeeded her brother, George 
^laxwell, in the lands of Munches and Dinwoodie, which she after- 
wards conveyed to her husband. She died childless in 1809, at the 

age of ninety. In 1813 Mr. Maxwell executed an entail of his 
VOL. n. F 


several estates in favour of his children. He was succeeded by his 
eldest son, Alexander Herries Maxwell, who practised as a physician 
in the metropolis. On his monument in St. Michael's Churchyard, 
Dumfries, the following inscription details his history : — 

Sacred to the memory of Alexander Herries Maxwell of Munches, Esquire, 
who died on the 28th of June 1815, in the 71st year of his age. Benevolent, 
frank, social, and warm-hearted, he was a steady and sincere friend, and 
always ready to advance the interests of those who had any claim to his good 
offices. After a residence of thirty-six years in London, he relinquished the 
medical profession, in which he had been indefatigable, and retiring to the 
vicinity of his native town, he devoted the remainder of his days to the exercise 
of his accustomed hospitality, the pursuit of agriculture, and the promotion of 
every plan for the improvement of the country. Thus was his life extensively 
useful and his death most deeply lamented. 

Mr. Alexander Herries Maxwell of Terraughty and Munches 
married, first, Charlotte, daughter of James Douglas, M.D., son of 
Willjf^m Douglas of Kelhead, by whom he had an only child, Charlotte, 
who died young. He married, secondly, Marion, eldest daughter of 
William Gordon of Greenlaw, relict of William Kirkpatrick of Eae- 
berry. She died childless, on the 14th April 1839, at the advanced 
age of ninety-four. 

In the lands of Munches, Dinwoodie, and Terraughty, Alexander 
Herries Maxwell was succeeded by his niece, Clementina Maxwell. 
She married in 1813 her relative, John Herries Maxwell of Barn- 
cleugh. On her death, in 1858, she was succeeded by her son, 
Wellwood Herries Maxwell of Munches. 



'J'he funiily of Maxwell of Kirkconnel descend from one of the older 
cadets of the house of Maxwell. John Maxwell of Kirkconnel 
founded tlic Al)l)ey of Holy wood in the twelfth century, and his 
representative, Thomas of Kirkconnel, swore fealty to Edward I. in 
129G. Wliile, at the Reformation, the majority of landowners in 
tlie southern counties embraced the Protestant doctrines, the Max- 
wells of Kirkconnel clung to the ancient faith ; and on this account 
several of the memhers were exposed to ecclesiastical severities. 
James Maxwell, younger of Kirkconnel, supported the cause of 
Prince Charles Edward. After the battle of CuUoden, he escaped 
to France ; and, while residing at St. Germains, drew up his Narra- 
tive of Charles, Prince of Wales ExjyecUtion to Scotland in 1745, 
which in 1 84 1 was printed by the Maitland ( 'lub. " The ' Narrative,* " 
rcnuvrks the editor, " is composed with a remarkable degree of pre- 
cision and taste, iiiasmuch as rather to appear the production of a 
practised litterateur than the work of a private gentleman, who 
merely aimed at giving memoranda of a series of remarkable events 
which he had chanced to witness." In 1750 Mr. Maxwell returne<l 
to Scotland ; he continued to reside upon his estate till his death, 
which took place on the 23rd of July 1762, in his fifty-fourth year. 
In 1758 he married Mary, youngest daughter of Thomas Riddell of 
Swinburne Castle, with issue three sons, James, William, and Thomas. 
Thomas, the youngest son, died on the 1st of June 1792. The 
eldest son, James, succeeded to the Kirkconnel estates, and died on 
the 5th of February, leaving an only child, Dorothy Mary. This 
lady, heiress of her father's estates, married her cousin, Robert 
Shawe James Witham, with issue. 

William Maxwell, second son of James Maxwell of Kirkconnel, 


was born in the parish of Troqueer in 1760. In his eleventh year 
he entered the New College of the Jesuits at Dinant, and, continuing 
in France, there attended the best medical schools. Having in Paris 
established himself as a physician, he contracted democratic opinions, 
and was one of the National Guards, present on the 2 1st January 
1793 at the execution of Louis XVI. It was related of him that he 
dipped his handkerchief in the royal blood. Eeturning to Scotland 
in 1794, he commenced medical practice at Dumfries, and there 
acquired the Poet's friendship. In a letter to Mr. George Thomson, 
in September 1794, Burns includes the copy of an epigram, which 
he had addressed to Dr. Maxwell, on the recovery from fever of 
Miss Jessie Staig, a young lady whom, in the Poet's words, he had 
by his professional skill "seemingly saved from the grave." The 
epigram is in these lines : — 

Maxwell, if merit here you crave, 

That merit I deny : 
You save fair Jessie from the grave ! 

An angel could not die. 

In the autumn of 1795 Mr. John Pattison of Kelvinorrove, 
brother of a gentleman who had been serviceable to the Poet in 
relation to the first Edinburgh edition of his poems, chanced to pass 
through Dumfries on a visit to his brother, a clergyman residing in 
that county. Meeting the Poet, he invited him to dinner at his 
hot€l, and begged that he would ask his friend Dr. Maxwell to 
accompany him. Dr. Maxwell assented ; and Mr. Pattison's son — 
then a lad at the grammar school — related half a century afterwards 
that, l)eing one of the company, he became much impressed with 
the physician's ingenuity and eloquence.^ 

During his last illness, the Poet experienced from Dr. Maxwell 

' Cliambers's Life and WvrU of Bur m, 1854, vol. iv., 173. 


an unwearied attention. Dr. Curric relates that, as he felt himflclf 
•lying, the Poet remarked, with a portion of his former humour, 
'* Wluit business has a physician to waste his time on me ? I am 
a poor pigeon not worth plucking. Alas ! I have not feathers 
enough to carry me to my grave." Some time afterwards, when 
increasinfj weakness satisfied him that his ailment mijrht not Ixi 
arrested in its fatal course, and that his end was near, he l)egged 
Dr. Maxwell to accept at his hands a pair of handsome Excise 
pistols, which he had lx)rne in his rides. As the kind physician 
remonstrated with him on parting with any portion of his little 
property, the Poet's face assumed the aspect of discontent, and half 
playfully he ejaculated, " Take the pistols, sir ; for, if you don't, 

they'll be sure to fall into the hands of some rascal, even 

greater than yourself." 

On the Poet's death, Dr. Maxwell was the first to move on 
behalf of his wife and children; he was in his effort joined by Mr. 
John Syme, also by Mr. Alexander Cunningham of Edinburgh. At 
this time Dr. Maxwell was in his thirty-sixth year ; and as he pro- 
fessed an alien faith, and had renounced the family Jacobitism only 
to embrace revolutionary sentiments even more widely obnoxious, 
he laboured under no ordinary difliculties in maintaining his practice. 
But his professional skill overcame personal disadvantages, and he 
came to be recognised as one of the most accomplished physicians 
of his district. Retiring from medical practice, owing to feeble 
health, he left Dumfries in May 1834 for Greenhill, Edinburgh, the 
residence of his cousin, Mr. Menzies of Pitfoddels. There he died 
on the 13th October of the same year. 

The brace of pistols, which on his death-l>ed was by the Poet gifted 
to Dr. Maxwell, now occupies a place in the Museum of the Scottish 
Society of Antiquaries. In connexion with their place of keeping 
there is a l>rief history, not quite uneventful. On the occasion of the 


centenary of the Poet's birth, the 25th of January 1859, Dr. Gillis, 
the Eoman Catholic Bisliop of Edinburgh, presented to the Society 
a brace of pistols which had belonged to Dr. Maxwell, who was his 
personal friend, and which the Bishop believed were those which 
the physician had received from the Bard. When the Bishop's gift 
was made public, a writer in the Illustrated London News remarked 
that the Poet's pistols, given to Dr. Maxwell, were purchased in 
1834 by the late Allan Cunningham, and w^ in possession of 
his widow. This assertion induced Bishop Gillis to institute an 
exhaustive inquiry, with the result that both the donor of the pistols 
and his London censor were found to be at fault ; for neither the 
one set nor the other proved to be that which the Poet had pre- 
sented to his physician. But the actual brace of pistols presented 
to his friend by the dying Bard were discovered and secured by the 
Bishop, who was privileged to exchange them for those formerly 
presented to the Society. 


Adjoining the territory through which flow^s the Molendinar burn, 
eastward of Glasgow Cathedral, are East and West Craigs. Believed 
to derive their name from this locality, the Craig family at Glasgow 
were formerly numerous. On the 15th Sej)tember 1507 John 
Craig was witness to a legal discharge executed at Glasgow, in con- 
nexion with a tenement at Kirkintilloch ; ^ while, on the 2nd April 
1521, Finlay and Andrew Craig are named as joint possessors of the 

^ Liher ProtocoUorum M. Cuthberti Slmonis, Notarii Publici et Scribce Capituli Gla.<^gnensis, 
1499-1513, Grampian Clul), 1877, vol. ii. 216. 


luiuls of Curdcn, in the diocese of Glasgow.' Early in the eighteenth 
century, the mercantile community of Glasgow embraced many 
families of the name.' 

Andrew Craig, who studied at the University of Glasgow,* settled 
as a merchant in Glasgow al)out the year 1707. He esjiouscd 
Mary, daugliter of the Rev. James Clark, minister of the Tron 
Church of that city, by his first wife Mary, daughter of Captain 
Robert Johnston, merchant. Mr. Clark, whose daughter was grand- 
mother of the subject of our present sketch, was not less distin- 
guished for his pulpit elotjuence than by his extreme political opinions 
and his decision of character. Before being in 1702 admitted 
minister of the Tron Church, he had served the parochial cures of 
Inncrwick and Dirleton. He strongly opposed the Union, and 
having in a discourse, preached on a Fast-day appointed by the 
Commission of the General Assembly, summed up with the words, 
" Wherefore be up and valiant for the city of God," a tumult ensued. 
Aroused by his eloquence, the populace menaced the civic authorities, 
and as a body held possession of the city. Eminently pious, Mr. 
Clark published works on the Presbyterian government of the 
Church of Scotland ; also various pulpit discoui*ses. He died in 
1724, about the age of sixty -four. His second wife was a daughter 
of Sir Robert Montgomerie, Bart., of Skermorlie.* 

To Andrew Craig and Mary C'lark, spouses, were born two sons, 
William and Andrew. William, baptized on the 15th February 
1709,' was in 1737 ordained minister of Cambusnethan, and in the 
following year was translated to the Wynd, afterwards known as St. 
Andrew's Church, Glasgow. Resembling his maternal grandfather, he 

' Rental Book of Diocese of Glasgow, Gram* College Register in 1608.— J/'itnJineiito Univ. 
pian Clul), vol. i. 79. Olaag., iii, 166. 

' Parish Register of Glasgow. * Fasti Ecd. Scot., ii. 11 ; Parish Register of 

' Mr. Andrew Craig's nauiu apiKan in tlie Glasgow. 

^ Baptismal Register of Glasgow. 


was remarkable for his piety, also for the eloquence and fervour of 
his discourses. In 1767 he published An Essay on the Life of 
Jesus Christ, which was followed by other theological works. A 
second edition of his two volumes of discourses appeared in 1808, 
with a memoir of his life. He died on the 13tli January 1784. 
His eldest son William, by his first wife, Jean Anderson,^ entered 
the Faculty of Advocates, and in 1792 was raised to the bench as 
Lord Craig. Of high literary culture, Lord Craig originated that 
literary conclave known as the " Mirror Club." He was a principal 
writer in the The Mirror, and as a contributor to The Lounger 
was chiefly instrumental in rescuing from oblivion the graceful and 
short-lived poet, Michael Bruce.^ As a judge he was also remark- 
able for his rectitude, precision, and despatch ; he is one of the 
notables included by Kay in his Ediiiburgh Portraits. His 
portrait was also painted by Eaeburn. He died at Edinburgh, on 
the 8th July 1813, in his sixty-eighth ycar.^ 

Andrew, younger son of Andrew Craig, qualified himself as a 
physician, and practised medicine in his native city. He married a 
daughter of the Rev. John Maclaurin, successively minister of Luss 
and of the Ramshorn, now St. David's Church, Glasgow. 

' Fasti Eccl. Scot., ii. 24, 275. ]]ut now the labour of the day is done, 

s Among the Lairig MSS. in the University Nor without halfpence in his leather purse ; 

of Edinburgh are preserved "Poems by William 0, sweet reward of toil, how fairly won, 

Craig, advocate, afterwards Lord Craig." From However little, got without a curse ! 

Lord Craig's verses " On a Cobbler," a humorous So home he hies him, freely to disburse 

sally on Gray and Parnell, we present the fol- The earnings of the day in ale so brown, 

lowing lines:— He thanks kind heaven that made his lot no 


Why should the muse, in high ambitious Then takes his drink and lays him safely down, 

verse, Nor wants a loving wife his honest joys to 

Sing the stern warrior and the bloody crown. 

Why^nTthe praise of industry rehearse, ' ^"'"t"^" '^"^^ "^^^'^ -^"^"'^''^ «/ '^« ^"^^'^^ 

Its heartfelt pleasure and lalKjrious pain? of Jmtice, Edin. 1832, 8vo, p. 540; Kays 

Portraits, ed. 1842, i. 302-304 ; Anderson's 
Scottish Nation, i. 691. 


Mr. Mucliiuiin's ancestors have Ixicn traced to the island of Tircc. 
His gnuulfatlier, Daniel, left Tiree for Inveraray, and distinguished 
himself by restoring that town from the desolation entailed by the 
civil wars. His father, the Rev. John Maclaurin, minister of 
l\iIniodan, assisted in preparing a (iaclic version of the Psjdms. 
His younger brother, Colin, who possessed the highest mathematical 
genius, was in his nineteenth year chosen Professor of Mathematics 
at Aberdeen. The friend and correspondent of Sir Ismic Newton, 
he wius transferred as Professor to the University of Edinburgh, and 
wliilc in that city made the calculations in connexion with the 
Ministers' Widows Fund. Professor Colin Maclaurin's eldest son, 
John, after an eminent career as an advocate, was in 1788 appointed 
n judge by the title of Lord Dreghorn ; he died on the 24th December 
1796. Both Lord Dreghorn and his father were copious writers; 
the mathematical treatises of the latter are much celebrated.' 

The Rev. John Maclaurin, father-in-law of Air. Antlrew Craig, 
was author of sermons and essays ; also of a work on the Prophecies 
vclating to- the Messiah. A discourse from his pen, " A glorying 
in the Cross of Christ," obtained wide acceptance. Mr. Maclaurin 
died on the 8th September 1784, at the age of sixty-one. 

The Rev. John Maclaurin was twice married. By bis first 
wife, Lilias, daughter of John Rae of Little Govan, he had nine 
children. Of these, the eldest daughter married John Finlay, writer 
in Glasgow, and became ancestress of the late Mr. Alexander 8. 
Finlay of Castle Toward. The second daughter was Mrs. Craig. 

Of the marriage of ISIr. Andrew Craig, surgeon, and 

I Anderson's Scotti»h Nation, iii. 37, 38 ; horn kept a printing-press, at which he printed 

Bruntou luul Hiiig's .Vc/ifj/t»rj«, 337-338. In 1708 poems for distribution among his friends. He 

apiHMin-d, in two volumes 8vo, the Works of comitostnl a satire against David Hume and 

John Maclaurin, Est), of Dreghorn, one of the John Home, author of " Dooglaa," entiUed 

Senators of the College of Justice. The first "The Philosopher: an opera in two acts." He 

Tolume contains "Epigrams," the second afterwards numbered both writers among his 

"Tlioughts on Various Subjectts." Lonl Dreg> friends, and withdrew his paat^uinade. 


Maclaurin were born a son and four daughters, all of whom died in 
infancy, save the daughters Margaret and Agnes. Margaret, born 
about 1752, married, in her nineteenth year, Captain Kennedy of 
Kailzie, and died about a year afterwards. Agnes was born in 
April 1759. An extremely delicate child, she was very imperfectly 
instructed, while the death of her mother when she was ten years 
old, proved a further barrier to her judicious upbringing. She was 
known in childhood as " the pretty Miss Nancy," and in opening 
womanhood was described as eminently beautiful. Among her 
admirers was Mr. James M'Lehose, a young lawyer in the city, who, 
disappointed in procuring an introduction to her, fell upon a 
stratagem in order to form her acquaintance. Learning that she 
was to be sent to Edinburgh to a ])oarding- school, he ascertained 
the time of her departure, and engaged all the seats in the interior 
of the stage-coach, excepting the one which had been secured to 
her. The journey occupied a whole day, and Mr. M'Lehose, who 
possessed a handsome person and a most insinuating address, im- 
proved the opportunity which he had purchased. Fascinated by 
his demeanour. Miss Craig allowed him to understand that his 
attentions were not disagreeable to her.' On her return from Edin- 
burgh, six months afterwards, Mr. M'Lehose followed up his suit. 
Remarking her predilection. Miss Craig's relatives entreated that she 
would not rashly form an engagement, but to their counsels she 
preferred her own judgment. She accepted Mr. M'Lehose's offer of 
marriage, and at the early age of seventeen became his wife. Li 
the parish register of Glasgow the marriage is recorded in these 
words: — "1776, July. — James M'Elhose, writer in Glasgow, and 
Agnes Craig, residing there, regularly married the 1st inst." 

Under ordinary circumstances, the union might have proved a 

J Collected Works of Rev. John Maclaurin. Preface by Kev. Dr. Gould. Edinb. 1860, 2 vols. 


happy one. Mr. M'LchoHC seems to Imve had a satisfiM^tory business 
(toiinexion ; he was only five years senior to his wife, and each party 
had been influenced solely by affection. But the pleasant manners 
which Mr. M'LehoHc itssumcd as a lovor were not to l)e recognised in 
the hu.sljJUKl. lie objected to liis wife's social tendencies, repelled her 
conversational j^)wers, which were of a high order, and chided her 
vivacity. At length he professed jealousy, and l)ecame cruel. In 
a statement prepared for her friends, Mrs. M'Lehose afterwards 
wrote : — 

Only a sliort time had elapsed ere I perceived, with itioxprewiblc regret, that 
our dispositions, tempers, and sentiments were so totally diflercnt as to banish 
all hopes uf happiness. C)ur disagreements rose to such a height, and my 
husband's treatment was so harsh, that it was thought advisable by my frienda 
a separation should take place, which accordingly followed in December 1780. 

Mrs. M'Lehose had lost her first-lx)rn. Two children were 
l)rought with her at the separation ; not long after that event a 
fourth was born. By the law of Scotland the father is entitled to 
the custody of his infants, and that which the law allowed Mr. 
M'Lehose vigorously enforced. Mrs. M'Lehose was deprived of her 
three children, two of whom were lx)arded with her husband's 
relatives, the youngest being entrusted to a nurse. Bereaved and 
desolate, she found shelter under her father's roof, and that gentle- 
man hastened to execute a settlement which would prevent the 
possibility of her being left destitute, or at the mercy of her 
husband. This settlement is dated the 10th January 1781 ; it 
became operative after a brief interval, for Mr. Craig died in the 
following year. By his settlement he constituted his daughter as 
his executrix, investing her in his entire estate, heritable and 
personal. The whole consisted of *' the second storey of a tenement 
on the east side of the Trongate, of household effects, and of a 
sum of £50 in Moore, Carrick, & Co.'s Bank." John Craig, son of 


Mrs. M'Lehose's father's brother, the Rev. William Craig, became 
cautioner to the administration.^ 

Mr. M'Lehose had become reckless and dissipated, while his 
father-in-law's settlement showed him that his hope of relieving 
himself from his obligations through his wife's means must be 
finally abandoned. In the year 1782 he resolved to leave the 
country, and, learning that his wife had removed to Edinburgh, he 
proceeded thither, and by a missive, couched in affectionate terms, 
begged an interview. The proposal was rejected, and in a letter 
addressed to her from London, he bitterly reproached her, and 
asked her to proceed to Glasgow, and receive under her protection 
their three children, as, he added, " none of my friends will have 
anything to do with them." 

The narrative may be continued in Mrs. M'Lehose's own 
words : — 

The income left me by my father being barely sufficient to board myself, 
I was now distressed how to support my three infants. With my spirits sunk 
in deep dejection, I went to Glasgow to see them. I found arrears due for 
their board. These I paid, and, the goodness of some worthy gentlemen in 
Glasgow procuring me a small annuity from the Writers, and one from the 
Surgeons,2 I again set out for Edinburgh with them in August 1782 ; and by 
the strictest economy made my little income go as far as possible. The deficiency 
was always supplied by some worthy benevolent friends, whose kindness no 
time can erase from my grateful heart. 

Among Mrs. M'Lehose's prominent benefactors was Mr. William 
Craig, afterwards Lord Craig, her cousin-german. This excellent 
man befriended his relative from the first, and when she was 
deprived of her annuities on the ground that her husband's success 
in Jamaica enabled him to support his children, Lord Craig supplied 

* Glasgow Com. Reg., vol. Ixix. pp. 47, 48. 

* The annuity from the Society of Writers was £10 ; that from the Surgeons, £8. 


the deficiency. Through his beneficence she wa« with her children 
duly cared for, while he rendered accessible to her the Ixjst literary 
society. At his <leuth in 1813, it was found that she was nwide an 
annuitant, and her son his lordship's residuary legatee. While Mrs. 
MTiChose was tlius generously upheld by one kinsman, another, John 
Ma(;laurin, Lord Dreghorn, was cold and silent. For the worse than 
widowed daughter of his cousin-german his lordship had not even 
the language of compassion. Respecting him Mrs. M'Lehose wrote 
to the Poet : " He used me in a manner unfeeling, — harsh l3eyond 
description, at one of the darkest periods of my chequered life." 

At Edinburgh Mrs. M'Lehose rented a small dwelling, Ixiing the 
first floor of a tenement in a court at the back of General's Entry, 
Potten-ow ; her rooms were low - roofed, and, having very small 
windows, were imperfectly lighted. Iler early education Iwing 
circumscril)ed, she now blended the instruction of her children with 
personal culture. She studied the best authors. At length she 
acquired a correct style, and composed in prose and verse with 
power and elegance. Mrs. M'Lehose and the Poet first met alxjut 
the 4th December 1787, at a little tea-drinking given by Miss 
Chalmers's friend, Miss Nimmo, at her house in Alison Sfjuare. 
With respect to the mutual impression produced at this meeting we 
are not uninformed. " Of all God's creatures," wrote the Poet, " I 
ever could approach in the beaten way of friendship, you struck me 
with the deepest, the strongest, the most permanent impression." 
To the Poet's letter containing these words Mrs. M'Lehose warmly 
replied : " Miss Nimmo can tell you how earnestly I had long 
pressed her to make us acquainted. I had a presentiment that we 
would derive pleasure from the society of each other." 

That two persons constituted as were Robert Burns and Agnes 
M'Lehose should liave been mutually attracted, was almost inevitable. 
Born in the same year, they seemed, in the language of astrology, to 


have entered life under something of the same planetary influence. 
Each discoursed eloquently and with feeling, each loved literary 
correspondence and cherished the Muse, and in each was the 
possession of genius mellowed by suffering. 

The Poet was preparing to leave Edinburgh, but a severe 
accident, which happened on a day, the evening of which he had 
promised to spend with his new acquaintance, confined him to his 
lodgings. Between the invited and the inviter a correspondence 
ensued, which in the history of letters has become memorable. For 
some weeks the correspondents used their own names ; but Mrs. 
M'Lehose fancifully adopted the name of " Clarinda," while Burns, 
who remarked that he loved Arcadian names, subscribed himself 
" Sylvander." The correspondence began on the 6th December 1787, 
and terminated on the 21st March 1788, continuing about three and 
a half months. Deeply interested in the compositions of one whose 
temperament much resembled his own, it was to be anticipated 
that the Poet w^ould hail the acquisition of his new acquaintance 
with all the energy of his ardent and susceptible nature. So he 
did, and without trespassing beyond the bounds of that decorum 
which, in the peculiar relations of the parties, was most especially 
to be observed. On her part Clarinda evinced an early and unceasing 
anxiety, so that she might elevate her correspondent from what she 
regarded as a state of moral indifferentism into the fervour of an 
earnest faith. On the 1st January 1788 she wrote thus : — 

Ah, my friend. Religion converts our heaviest misfortunes into blessings ! 
I feel it to be so. Thus passions, naturally too violent for my peace, have 
been broken and moderated by adversity ; and if even that has been unable to 
conquer my vivacity, what length might I not have gone, had I been permitted 
to glide along in the sunshine of prosperity. I should have forgot my future 
destination, and fixed my happiness on the fleeting shadows below. . . . My 
heart was formed for love, and I desire to devote it to Him who is the source of 


love ! Y08, wo shall surely meet in an " unknown state of being," whore there 
will b« full scope for every kind, heartfelt affection — love without alloy, and 

witliDut end. 

Writing to the Bard on the 3rd of Jtiiiuiuy, she scut him these 
lines : — 

Talk not. of Ixivc ! it gives mc pain, 

For Lovo lijw been my foe : 
He bound me in an iron chain. 

And plung'd me deep in woo. 

But Friendship's pure and lasting joya 

My heart was formed to prove ; 
The worthy object be of those, 

But never talk of Love. 

The " Hand of Friendship " I accept. 

May Heaven be our guard ! 
Virtue our intercourse direct, 

Her smiles our dear rewartl. 

In a letter to Chirinda, also of the 3rd January, Sylvander 
writes : — 

Your religious sentiments, madam, I revere. If you have, on some sus- 
picious evidence from some lying oracle, learnt that I despise or ridicule so 
sacredly importtint a matter as real religion, you have, my Clarinda, much mia- 
constnied your friend. , . . My definition of worth is short : truth and 
humanity respecting our fellow - creatures ; reverence and humility in the 
l)re8ence of that Being, my Creator and Preserver, and who, I have every rcaw)n 
to believe, will one day bo my Judge. 

On the 8th January Sylvander uses these words : — 

I am deliglited, charming Clarinda, with your honest enthusiasm for 
religion. Tlioso of either sex, but particularly the female, who are lukewarm in 
that most imixtrtaut of all things, " my soul, come not thou into their 


In the same letter the Poet refers to that part of his creed quoted 
elsewhere, in which he recognizes Christ as " a Guide and Saviour." 
On the 19th January he, in relation to a retrospect of his life, 
addresses his correspondent thus : — 

My life reminded mc of a ruined temple : what strength, what proportion in 
some parts ; what unsightly gaps, what prostrate ruins in others ! I kneeled 
down before the Father of mercies, and said, " Father, I have sinned against 
Heaven and in Thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called Thy son." 

On the evening of Sunday, the 20 th January, Clarinda addresses 
the Bard on the doctrines of the Christian faith. She writes : — 

If God had not been pleased to reveal His own Son, as our all-sufficient 
Saviour, what could we have done but cried for mercy, Avithout any sure hope 
of obtaining it ? But when we have Him clearly announced as our Surety, our 
Guide, our blessed Advocate with the Father ; who, in their senses, ought to 
hesitate in putting their souls into the hands of this glorious " Prince of Peace % " 
Without this, we may admire the Creator in His Avorks, but we can never 
approach Him with the confidential tenderness of children. " I will arise and 
go to my Father." This is the blessed language of every one who believes and 
trusts in Jesus. . . . Whenever the wish is sincerely found in our hearts, our 
heavenly Father will Lmve compassion upon us, '* though a great way oflF." 
This is " the religion of the bosom." . . . Why should we, who know " the Avay, 
the truth, and the life," deprive ourselves of the comfort it is fitted to yield ? 
Let my earnest wish for your eternal as well as temporal happiness excuse the 
warmth Avith which I have unfolded what has been my own fixed point of rest. 

In a letter to Clarinda, dated 21st January, Sylvander thus 
expresses himself : — 

Thou, whose I am and wliose are all my ways ! Thou seest me here, the 
hapless wreck of tides and tempests in my own bosom. Do Thou direct to 
Thyself that ardent love for which I have so often sought a return, in vain, 
from my fellow-creatures ! If Thy goodness has yet such a gift in store for me, 
as an equal return of affection from her who. Thou knowest, is dearer to me 
than life, do Thou bless and hallow our bond of love and friendship ; watch 


over MS in nil our outgoings Jind incomingx for good, and may tho tic thnt unites 
our honrts bo strong and indissolublo a« the thread of man's immortal life. 

Replying on the 24th of January, Clarinda wrote thus: — 

O Sylvandcr, may the friendship of that God you and I have too much 
neglected to secure, be henceforth our chief study and delight. 

On the 27th January she used these words: — 

Tell me, did you ever, or how oft have you smote on your breast and cried, 
Ood bo merciful to me a sinner 1 I fancy once or twice, when suffering from 
the effects of your errors. . . . My dearest friend, there are two wishes upper- 
most in my breast — to see you think alike with Clarinda on religion ; and to see 
you settled in some creditable line of business. The warm interest I take in 
both those is iwrhajw the best proof of the sincerity of my friendship, as well 
as the earnest of its duration. 

Writing to Clarinda on the evening of Sunday, 3rd February, 
Sylvander proceeds : — 

Did you ever meet with the following lines, spoken i)f Rolit'ion, iinur 
darling topic : — 

•' Tis thisy my friend, that streaks our morning bright ; 
'Tis this that gilds the horror of our night! 
When wealth forsjikes us, and when friends are few. 
When friends are faithless, or when foes pursue ; 
'Tis this that wards the blow, or stills the smart-. 
Disarms ntlliction, or repels its dart ; 
AVithin tho breast bids purest rapture rise, 
Bids smiling conscience spread her cloudless sktefli" 

I met with these versos very early in life, and was so delighted with them, that 
I have them by me, copied at school.^ 

It is rather a bad picture of us — wrote Clarinda on tho 8th ^farch — that we 
are most prone to call upon God in trouble. Ought not the daily blessings of 

' Bums usp.H tlipsc lines in hia corr<?,«»ponil- in conversation. They are to l>o fonn*! in the 
ence with Mr.-*. Dunlop ; lie also quoted theni early editions of Hervey's Meditation*. 
VOL. II. n 


health, peace, competence, friends ; ought not those to awaken our constant 
f'ratitude to the Giver of all ? I imagine that the heart which does not occa- 
sionally glow with filial love in the hours of prosperity, can hardly hope to feel 
much comfort in flying to God in the time of distress. 0, my dear Sylvander ! 
that we may be enabled to set Ilim before us, as our witness, benefactor, and 
judge, at all times and on all occasions ! 

While this correspondence between Sylvander and Clarinda con- 
tinued, the Poet visited his correspondent about ten times. One 
of the visits was brief, and at several strangers were present. 
At the other interviews the parties were alone, and had they 
continued in close amity there might, in view of the Poet's 
ardour, have been scope for the conjecture that these meetings were 
attended with levities. Not unhappily for their reputation, there 
ensued between the correspondents a temporary alienation. The 
Poet's marriage with Jean Armour, not long after he had described 
her to Mrs. M'Lehose as " perfidious," led Clarinda to charge him 
with deception. The communication in which she made her accusa- 
tion remained unanswered, since she declined to receive any reply, 
except it made an acknowledgment of falsehood. But when Clarinda 
relented, and addressed her poetical correspondent in terms less 
harsh, the Bard, in a letter dated at Ellisland, 9th March 1789, 
answered in these words : — 

I have already told you, and I again aver it, that at the period of time 
alluded to I was not under the smallest moral tie to Mrs. Burns ; nor did I, nor 
could I then know, all the powerful circumstances that omnipotent necessity 
was busy laying in wait for me. "When you call over the scenes that have 
passed between us, you will survey the conduct of an honest man struggling 
successfully with temptations, the most powerful that ever beset humanity, and 
preserving untainted honor in situations where the austerest virtue would 
have forgiven a fall ; situations that I will dare to say, not a single individual of 
all his kind, even with half his sensibility and passion, could have encountered 
without ruin ; and I leave you to guess, madam, how such a man is likely to 
digest an accusation of " perfidious treachery." 


The Poet, in a letter to Mrs. M'Lcliose, written in February 
1 790, asserts that she still inisconstrues him. In another, written in 
August 1791, he (;om])lains of his correspondent's menace to preserve 
liis letters. In November of the same year the correspondence was 
renewed ; and, during the Bard's visit to Edinburgh for a week 
subsequent to the 29th November, the parties met frequently. 
Complete reconciliation followed. 

When Mr. M'Lehose proceeded to London in 1782, he probably 
intended to leave the country, but the dissipations of the mctrop>lis 
attracted and overwhelmed him. At length he was thrown into a 
debtors' prison, and his mother and other relatives in Scotland sub- 
scribed for his liberation, on the express condition that he forthwith 
emigrated. lie complied with the condition, and sttiled for Jamaica 
in November 1784. 

At Jamaica Mr. M'Lehose prospered, but for a time he was 
silent to every appeal made to him, whether by his wife or by Lord 
Craig, for the support of his children. At length, when informed 
that William, his youngest child, had died in August 1790, he 
enclosed to Mrs. M'Lehosc a bill for £50, accompanied by the 
request that she would educate their surviving son "at the first 
boarding-school for young gentlemen," and promising punctually 
to defray the cost. lie also gave his wife an opportunity of 
rejoining him in his new home. Having consulted her relatives, 
Mrs. M'Lehose at length resolved to comply with the invitation. 
From her husband's mother, whom she visited in Glasgow, she 
learned that, though her circumstances were straitened, he had not 
for three years communicated with her. And she had the further 
discouragement that, months after she had consented to leave Great 
Britain, and when she was just about to embark, she had a letter 
from her husband, alleging that yellow fever prevailed in the island, 
and that the negroes were in revolt. But she determined not to 


put aside her resolution, and hence made arrangements for her 
voyage. In prospect of her departure, she had a final interview 
with the Poet. This took place on the 6th December 1791, and on 
the 27th of the same month the Poet despatched to her three set^ 
of verses in allusion to the contemplated separation. Among these 
was his well-known song beginning, " Ae fond kiss, and then we 

Before sailing Mrs. M'Lehose communicated with the Poet in an 
earnest strain. In a letter to him, dated Edinburgh, 25th January 
1792, she writes : — 

Now, my dearest sir, I have a few things to say to you, as the last advice 
of her who could have lived or died with you ! I am happy to know of 
your applying so steadily to the business you have engaged in ; but 0, 
remember this life is a short passing scene ! Seek God's favour — keep His 
commandments — be solicitous to prepare for a happy eternity ! Then, I trust, 
we shall meet in perfect and never-ending bliss. Read my former letters 
attentively ; let the religious tenets there expressed sink deep into your mind ; 
meditate on them with candour, and j-^our accurate judgment must be convinced 
that they accord with the words of Eternal Truth. Laugh no more at holy 
things or holy men : remember that " without holiness no man shall see God." 
... So it was the Roselle you were to have gone in ! I read your letter to-day, 
and reflected deeply on the ways of Heaven. To us they oft appear dark and 
doubtful ; but let us do our duty faithfully, and sooner or later we shall have 
our reward, because " the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth." . . . And now adieu ! 
May Almighty God bless you and yours ! take you into His blessed favour 
here, and afterwards receive you into His glory. 

In February 1792 Mrs. M'Lehose sailed from Leith in the 
Roselle^ the vessel in which the Poet intended to have sailed for 
Jamaica six years previously. It arrived at Kingston in April, but 
Mr. M'Lehose allowed some time to elapse before he entered an 
appearance. He received his wife coldly, but, though his demeanour 
became less repellent, Mrs. M'Lehose could not regard with com- 


placency his hursh treatment of his slaves — still less his owiiiiipj 
liimHclf ftithcr of children by a coloured mistress. She also 
sutterod personally from the climate. So, parting with her husband 
amicahly, after a three months' visit, she re-cniharkcd on lx)artl 
the Roselle, and in August reached Edinburgh. 

Mr. M'Lehose handed to his wife at parting the sum of twenty 
guineas, but the expenses incurred for his son's board he did not 
liquidate according to his promise. In a suit which she raised 
against him in the Court of Session, Mrs. M'Lehose obtiiined, in 
March 1797, a judgment allowing her a yearly aliment of £100, 
but the decree, owing to her husband's al)sence from the Court's 
jurisdiction, proved ineffectual. Mr. M'Lehose survived till March 
1812. For many years, as Chief Clerk of the Court of Common 
Pleas in Jamaica, he enjoyed a large income, yet no portion of it 
was received by the mcnibers of his family. But a balance of several 
hundred pounds which belonged to him in the hands of Messrs. 
Coutts, the London bankei-s, was happily received after his decease. 

In affectionate remembrance of Mrs. M'Lehose, the Poet com- 
posed in the summer after her departure his song " My Nannie's 
awa'," and about the same time he produced his song " AVandering 
Willie," as an expression of his friend's feelings on being reunited 
with her husband. After Mrs. M'Lehose returned to Scotland, he 
repeatedly made inquiries as to her welfare through Miss ^lary 
Peacock, more especially in a letter written on the 6th December, 
the anniversary of his last meeting with her. In March 1793 he 
sent her a copy of a new edition of his poems, and therewith a 
characteristic letter. To this letter she made answer, but her 
communication has not been preserved. A further letter from the 
Poet, addressed to her from Castle Douglas on the 25th June 1794, 
congratulates her on restored health, and asserts the writer's deep 
interest in her welfare. 


After a period, Mrs. M'Lehose quitted lier dwelling in the 
Potterrow for a house in the Calton, more befitting her position. 
She was much in society, her animated and intelligent conversa- 
tion rendering her a favourite in every assembly. Among those 
literary persons who specially rejoiced in her intimacy were Mr. 
Eobert Ainslie, introduced to her by Burns, Thomas Campbell, 
author of The Pleasures of Hope, Mr. James Graham, author of 
The Sahhath, and Mr. James Gray of the High School, For forty 
years she gave an entertainment on New Year's Day, to which an 
invitation was regarded as a special honour. As at the commence- 
ment, so towards the close of her career, she experienced sorrows 
Her only surviving son, Mr. Andrew M'Lehose, became a Writer to 
the Signet, and married; he died in 1839, predeceased by his wife 
and two children. Chastened by the loss of all her descendants, 
save one, Mrs. M'Lehose latterly cherished a pensive retirement. 
She died on the 22nd October 1841, in her eighty-third year. A 
well-written memoir of her, accompanying her correspondence with 
the Poet, was produced in 1843 by Mr. W. C. M. M'Lehose, her 
surviving grandchild. He too has passed away, and the race of 
Clarinda is extinct. 

A desire to shine in the fashionable drawing-room rather than 
on the printed page, has deprived Mrs. M'Lehose of that celebrity 
which she would certainly otherwise have enjoyed. Both in prose 
and verse she composed with marked effect. Her " Fugitive 
Verses," attached to her memoir by her grandson, are so graceful 
and ornate as to excite regret that she had not further indulged the 
poetic vein. Her stanzas commencing "Talk not of love," are 
embraced in nearly every edition of the Poet's works, and are in no 
respect inferior to verses from his own pen. Her prose is exquisite. 
Clarinda's letters are unrivalled in any compositions of the sort, 
ancient or modern. Passionate they are, — often vehemently so, — 


yet from the hcginniiig of licr correspondence to its close there is 
not a plirase or expression which we could desire to alter or could 
wish unwritten. She uses phrases expressive of strong, deep attach- 
ment, l)ut these are due to the effervescence of a fervent nature, and 
are wholly innocent. 

Mrs. M'Lehose survived the Poet forty-five years. She never 
forgot him. Writing to Mr. John Syme shortly after the Poet's 
death, in regard to her correspondence with him, she proceeds : — 

Wliat can have impressed such an idea upon you, as that I over conceived 
the most distant intention to destroy these precious memorials of an acquaint- 
nnco, tlie rocolloction of wliicli would influence me were I to live till fourscore t 

Bo assured 1 will lu'vcr snflfir oni! of them to pi'tisli. 

Wliat Mrs. M'Lehose thus expressed was actually fulfilled ; she 
lived till upwards of fourscore, and to the last cherished the 
Poet's memory. In her Journal, under the 25th January 1813, 
she writes: — "Burns's birthday. A great dinner at Oman's. Should 
like to be there, an invisible spectator of all said of that great 
genius." In another entry, dated Gth December 1831, she has the 
following : — " This day I can never forget. Parted with Bums in 
the year 1791, never more to meet in this world. Oh, may we 
meet in heaven ! " 

To the collection of Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe she in old age 
contributed a volume which Burns had presented to her as a parting 
token. It was a handsome copy of Young's Night ThcmghtSy 
inscribed thus : — " To Mi's. M'Lehose, this poem, the sentiments of 
the heirs of immortality, told in the numlxjrs of Pamdise, is respect- 
fully presented by Robert Burns." 

To the verge of old age Mrs. IM'Lehose was beautiful an<l 
engaging. Short in stiiture, her form was graceful, her hands and 
feet small and delicate. Iler features were regular and pleasing, her 


eyes lustrous, her complexion fair, her cheeks ruddy, and a well- 
formed mouth displayed teeth beautifully white. All who had the 
privilege of meeting her were charmed with her society ; and it may 
be added that those only who have not studied her character and 
read her letters, will ever venture to express towards her memory 
a single word of censure or reproach. 


On the wall of Melrose Abbey are inscribed these lines : — 

John Murdo sometime callit was I, 
And born in Parysse certainly, 
And had in keeping al mason werk 
Of Sant Androy's, ye Hye Kerk, 
Of Glasgow, Melrose, and Paslay, 
Of Nyddisdayll and of Galway. 
Pray to God and Mary baith, 
And sweet Sanct John, to keep 
This holy kirk fra scaith. 

This simple memorial-stone preserves from oblivion the name of an 
ingenious artist whose existence would otherwise have been for- 
gotten. On the 25th July 1565 the Commendator of Melrose 
granted to John M'Murdy and his heirs a charter of the lands of 
Cubbingtoun and Ferdinmakrery. John was succeeded by his son 
Robert, who in a retour, dated 27th October 1602, is served heir of 
his father, " John Macmurdie in Dunscore in the lands of Cubbentoun 
and others, now commonly known as Macmurdestoun." Of Robert's 
two sons, Robert and John, the latter continued the representation 
of the family. He had two sons, James and John, the latter of 


whom was in 1702 admitted minister of Torthorwald. In 1715 the 
Rev. John M'Murdo, with an ardent loyalty, led Iuh pariHhionere as 
volunteers in support of the reignin«( house an<l of the ProtcsUnt faith. 
Eminently pious, he was assiduous in fulfilling all the pjistoral <lutie«, 
but his promising career was checked hy an early death ; he died 
on the 19th November 1720, at the age of thirty-nine. He manied, 
first, Mary Muir of Cassencarry, without issue ; secondly, Alison, 
daughter of William Charteris of Bridgemoor, by whom he had two 
sons, Robert and William. William, the younger sou, settled as a 
brewer in Dumfries, and was elected a magistrate of that burgh.' 
He died 4th April 17G8. By his wife, Mary Blacklock, who died 
25th September 17G4, he had four sons, John, William, George, 
and Thomjvs ; also six daughters, of whom Catherine, Henrietta, 
Jean, Susan, and Elizal)eth died unmarried." Anna married, 
4th June 1770, the Rev. George Duncan, minister of Lochrutton ; 
she died on the 20th July 1824, leaving five sons and throe 
daughters. The sons George, William, and Robert engaged in mer- 
chandise at Liverpool ; Henry was ordained minister at Ruth well ; 
and Thomas Tudor became one of the ministers of Dumfries. Mary, 
one of the daughters, married the Rev. Dr. Thomas Inglis, who 
succeeded her father at Lochrutton ; and Christina married Mr. 
Walter Phillips, factor for the Earl of Mansfield,' and whose 8ist<;r 
Margaret was wife of James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd. 

James M'Murdo, eUlor brother of the minister of Torthorwald, 
succeeded to the representation of the family. His son, Robert 
M'Murdo of Drumgaus, Iwrn in 1716, was some years chamberlain 
to Charles, Duke of Queensberry. He espoused, in 1 740, Philadelphia, 
daughter of James Douglas of Dornock, who died 6th February 1754, 

" FaMi Bed. Scot. I 602. 

' Family tunibstonr, St. Michael's Churchyard, Damfrie*. 
' Fnsli Efcl. Scot. i. 596. 


at the age of thirty-one. Mrs. M'Murdo's remains were consigned 
to St. Michael's Churchyard, Dumfries, where she is commemorated 
by a handsome monument, suitably inscribed. 

Kobert M'Murdo of Drumgans died on the 27th June 1766. His 
son John forms the principal subject of the present sketch. John 
M'Murdo held office as chamberlain to William, Duke of Queens- 
berry. Kesident in the Castle of Drumlanrig, he became known to 
Burns through the good offices of Captain Riddel. At one of their 
early meetings Mr. M'Murdo presented the request that the Poet 
would favour him with some of his unpublished verses. Gratified 
by the compliment, the Poet, in the course of a journey from 
Ellisland to Ayrshire, rested at Sanquhar, and there committed to 
paper some verses for transmission to Drumlanrig Castle. The 
verses sent were the song in praise of his wife, beginning, " Oh were 
I on Parnassus hill " — the conical hill of Corsincon, named in the 
composition and compared to Parnassus, being right in front of him 
as he journeyed. The Poet accompanied his song with the following 
letter : — 

Sanquhar, IWi November 1788. 

Sir, — I write you this and the enclosed, literally en passant, for I am just 
baiting on my way to Ayrshire. I have philosophy or pride enough to support 
me with unwounded indifference against the neglect of my more dull superiors, 
the merely rank and file of noblesse and gentry — nay, even to keep ray vanity 
quite sober under the larding of their compliments ; but from those who are 
equally distinguished by their rank and character — those who bear the true 
elegant impressions of the Great Creator on the richest materials — their little 
notices and attentions are to me amongst the first of earthly enjoyments. 
The honor thou didst my fugitive pieces in requesting copies of them is so 
highly flattering to my feelings and poetic ambition, that I could not resist even 
this half opportunity of scrawling off for you the enclosed, as a small but honest 
testimony how truly and gratefully 1 have the honor to be, sir, your deeply 
obliged humble servant. 


Til rcf'Ofrnition of hw politeness, Mr. M'Murdo presented the 
Poet, the followini^ New Yenr's Day, witli a IIi<;hlund wedder. In 
acknowledgiiif^ the gift Burns transmitted to the donor another MS. 
song. A letter therewith sent, dated 0th Januarv 1780, he enneludes 
iu these words : — 

With — not the compliments, but — thu In-iit wihhis, tin .-ijiocit ot |)raytT of 
tlie season for you, that you may see many happy years with Mrs. M'Munlo 
and your family — two blessings, by the by, to which your rank docs not entitle 
you, a lovinj,' wife and fine family Injing almost the only gootl things of this life 
to which tlio fiirm-house and cottage have an exclusive right. 

Mrs. M'Murdo, in whose praise the Poet expresses himself so 
emphatically, was originally known as Jane Blair, her father being 
Provost Blair of Dumfries. Iler sister was wife of Colonel de 
Peyster, who commanded the Dumfries Volunteers, and was also 
one of the Poet's friends. To Mrs. M'Murdo Burns addressed a 
letter, which is dated Ellisland, 2nd May 1789. In this com- 
munication he writes thus : — 

You cannot easily imagine what thin-skinned animals, what sensitive plants 
jwor Poets are. How we shrink into the embittered comer of self-abasement 
when neglected or contemned by those to whom we look up ! and how do we, 
in erect importance, add another cubit to our stature on being noticed and 
applauded by those whom we honor and respect ! My late visit to Drum- 
lanrig has, I can tell you, madam, given me a balloon-waft up Pamassua, 
where, on my fancied elevation, I regard my poetic self with no small degree of 
complacency. Surely, with all their sins, the rhyming tribe are not ungrateful 
creatures. I recollect your goodness to your humble guest — I see Mr. M'Murdo 
adding, to the politeness of the gentleman, the kindness of a friend, and my 
heart swells as it would burst, with warm emotions and ardent wishes ! It 
may be it is not gratitude, at least it may be a mixed sensation. That strange, 
shifting, doubling animal man is so generally at best but a negative, often a 
worthless creature, that one cannot see real goodness and native worth without 
feeling the bosom glow >vith sympathetic approbation. 



The Poet subscribes himself his correspondent's "obliged and 
grateful humble servant." 

A contest for the Parliamentary representation of the Dumfries 
Burghs had been agitating the county for many months, Mr. 
M'Murdo vigorously supporting the Whig side, espoused by his 
constituent the Duke of Queensberry. Burns embraced the oppor- 
tunity of celebrating his friends in his " Election Ballad " thus : — 

M'Murdo and his lovely spouse 

(Th' enamour'd laurels kiss her brows !) 

Led on the Loves and Graces : 
She won each gaping burgess heart, 
While he, all-conquering, played his part 

Among their wives and lasses. 

When, in December 1791, the Poet left Ellisland for Dumfries, 
Mr. M'Murdo opened the way to his social comfort by preceding his 
advent with some friendly letters. Among those addressed by him 
was his relative Anne M'Murdo's husband, the Rev. George Duncan 
of Lochrutton. From this reverend gentleman, whose manse w^as 
situated about six miles to the south-west of Dumfries, the Poet 
experienced much kindness and hospitality. About thirty years 
ago the present writer was informed by the late Dr. Thomas Tudor 
Duncan of Dumfries, a younger son of the minister of Lochrutton, 
as to the interest excited in his early home by the Poet's visits. 
Our informant was sixteen, and his brother Henry two years 
older, w^hen, in 1793, Burns paid his first visit to their father's 
manse. And he remembered his father's words to them. " Look 
well, boys, at Mr. Burns, for you'll never again see so great a 
genius." Obeying the paternal counsel, they gazed earnestly at 
their visitor, till from the survey of his features they were diverted 
by the power and brilliancy of his conversation. 

joirN M'lrrrRDO. co 

Tlic Poet's E«linl)urgli edition wiw reprinted in 1793, in two 
voliimos. A set reached Mr. M'Murdo, with this inscription : — 

DuMFRiBS, March 1793. 

Will Mr. M'Murdo do me tho favor to accept of these volumes t a trifling 
but sincere mark of the very hi^li respect I boar for his worth as a man, his 
manners as a gontlemnn, and his kindness as a friend. However inferior, now 
or afterwanis, I may rank as a poet, one honest virtue, to which few ]x)cts can 
pretend, I trust I shall ever claim as mine — to no man, whatever his station in 
life, or his |K>wcr to serve me, have I ever paid a compliment at the expense of 
Truth. — The Author. 

During the summer of 1793 Mr. M'Murdo «|uiucd Diunilainig, 
and, with a view probably to educational facilities, established his 
residence in the vicinity of Dumfries. At his new home the Poet 
waited on him, and during his visit inscribed with his diamond on 
a window-pane these lines : — 

^ Blest be M'Murtlo to his latest day ! 

No envious cloud o'ercast his evening ray ; 
No wrinkle, furrowed by the hand of cart;. 
Nor oven sorrow add one silver hair ! 
O may no son tho father's honor stain. 
Nor ever daughter give the mother pain ! 

A month or two later the Poet, reduced to pecuniary straits, 
requested from Mr. IM'Murdo a loan of " three or four guinetus ; " 
his correspondent sent liim six guineas, which he repaid in 
December, with the remark : — 

I have owed you money longer than ever I owed it to any man, . . . and 
now I don't owe a shilling to man or woman either. . . . Independent of tlie 
obligations your hospitality has laid me under, the consciousness of your 
superiority in tho rank of man and gentleman of itself was fully as much as I 
could ever make head against, but to owe you money too, was more than I 
could face. 


In the same packet the Poet sent Mr. M'Murdo in loan " a Col- 
lection of Songs " composed by members of the Crochallan Club. 

Mr. M'Murdo died at Bath on the 4th December 1803, at the 
age of sixty. By his wife he was long survived ; she died on the 
19th April 1836, aged eighty-eight. On the M'Murdo family tomb- 
stone in St. Michael's Churchyard, Dumfries, she is commemorated 
in the following inscription : — 

Sacred to the memory of Jane Blair, widow of the late John M'Murdo, Esq., 
who departed this life on the 19th of April 1836, in her 88th year, "The 
memory of the just is blessed," " Kept by the power of God through faith 
unto salvation," she leant upon Jesus as the Lord her righteousness and her 
strength, and through grace was privileged to exemplify that wisdom which 
Cometh from above, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be 
entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without 
hypocrisy. Honoured, respected, and beloved, her memorial is written on the 
hearts of her children. They rise up and call her blessed ; her husband also, 
for he trusted in her. 

Of the marriage of John M'Murdo and Jane Blair were born 
seven sons and seven daughters. 

Jane, the eldest daughter, is the subject of the Poet's ballad 
commencing thus : — 

There was a lass and she was fair. 

At kirk and market to be seen ; 
When a' the fairest maids were there. 

The fairest maid was bonnie Jean. 

In transmitting to Miss M'Murdo a copy of his verses in her praise, 
the Poet, in a letter dated July 1793, thus communicated with her 
in prose : — 

" Madam, — Amid the profusion of compliments and addresses, which your 
age, sex, and accomplishments will now bring you, permit me to approach with 
my devoirs, which however deficient may be their consequence in other respects, 
have the double novelty and merit, in these frivolous hollow times, of being 


pootic and sincoro. \\\ the enclosed ballad I have, I think, hit off a few oat- 
linos of your i><)rtniit. The personal chartiiR, the purity of mind, the ingenuous 
naivete of heart and nuumers in my heroine arc, I flatter myself, a prtjtty juut 
likeness of Miss M'Murdo in a cottage. Every composition of this kind must 
have a scries of dramatic incidents in it, so I have had recourse to my invention 
to finish the rest of my WUad. So much from the [weL Now let me atld a 
few wishes, which every man who has himself the honor of being a father 
must breathe, when he sees female youth, beauty, and innocence about to enter 
into this chcciucrcd and very precarious worhl. May you, ray young madam, 
escai>o tluit frivolity which threatens universally to pcn'adc the minds and 
manners of fashionable life, though it may ymga by the rougher and more 
degenerate sex. The mob of fashionable female youth, what are they t are they 
anything? They prattle, laugh, sing, dance, finger a lesson, or i)erliape turn 
over the parts of a fashionable novel, but are their minds stored with any infor- 
mation worthy of the noble powers of reason and judgment 1 or do their hearts 
glow with sentiment, ardent, generous, or humane t Were I to poetise on the 
subject, I would call them butterflies of the human kind, remarkable only for, 
and distinguished oidy by, the idle variety of their ordinary glare, sillily straying 
from one blosvsoming weed to another, without a meaning ami without an aim, 
iiio idiot prey of every pirate of the skies who thinks them worth his while, as 
he wings his way by them, and speedily by wintry time swept to that oblivion 
whence they might as well have never api)eared. Amid this crowd of nothings 
may you, madam, be something — may yours be a character dignified ; a rational 
and immortal Ixjing. 

Jane M'Murdo was born on the 13th Septeml)er 1777. She 
marrietl, 4th October 1799, John Inncs rnnvfonl of Bellfield ; she 
(lied about the year 1839, without issue. 

Philadelphia Barbara, second daugliter, is the subject of at least 
four of the Poet's songs, of which the most popuhir is that entitled 
" Phillis the Queen o' the Fair." It was composed, the Poet informs 
us, out of compliment to Mr. Stephen Clarke, the musical editor of 
Johnson's Museum, who liad been engaged to give musical lessons 
to Mr. M'Murdo's daughters. Miss Philadelphia M'Murdo was 
celebrated as a beauty; she was born 11 th March 1779, and 


married, 3rd January 1806, Norman Lockhart of Tarbrax, a member 
of the house of Lee and Carnwath. She had fourteen children, and 
died 5th September 1825. 

The other daughters of John M'Murdo were — Mary Veitch, born 
4th June 1782; Barbara Douglas, born 5th September 1783 ; Eebecca 
Charlotte Melville, born 20th June 1788 ; Ann, born 15th July 
1790 ; and Arentina Schuyler de Peyster, born 5th April 1794. 

Mr. M'Murdo's sons were Robert, born 25th April 1771 ; Bryce 
Blair, born 18th April 1773; Archibald, born 9th March 1775; 
Douglas Veitch, born 18th February 1781 ; John, born 28th Feb- 
ruary 1785 ; Charles, born 24th May 1786 ; and William Ferguson, 
born 9th August 1791. 

Archibald, the third son, served as major in the 27tli Eegiment of 
Foot. On retiring from the army, he was appointed colonel of the 
Dumfriesshire Militia. He died at Dumfries on the 11th October 
1829, at the age of fifty-four. His remains were consigned to the 
family burying-place in St. Michael's Churchyard, where he and his 
wife, also a daughter, who died young, are commemorated on a ftimily 

Colonel Archibald M'Murdo married Catherine Martha Wilson, 
with issue six sons and six daughters. John James, the eldest son, 
born in 1815, became an officer in the Indian army, and latterly 
served as colonel of the Dumfriesshire Militia; he died in 1868. 
Archibald William, second son, a Vice-Admiral in the Royal Navy, 
accompanied Bach and Ross in their Arctic and Antarctic expeditions. 

Montagu, a younger son of Colonel Archibald M'Murdo, is a 
general in the army. When the Volunteer movement of 1859 
assumed a national and permanent character, he was appointed 
Inspector-General of the Force, and his important service in this 
connexion was afterwards acknowledged by his receiving a public 



Patrick Millek, third son of William Miller, Writer to the Signet, 
nnd giantlson of Matthew Miller of Glenlee and Barskimming, in 
the county of Ayr, was born at Glasgow in 173 L Thomas, his 
father's second son, born 3rd November 1717, was called to the 
Scottish Bar in 1742, and was appointed Lord Advocate in 1760. 
In 1761 he was elected M.P. for the burgh of Dumfries, and in 
1766 was advanced to the legal dignity of Lord Justice Clerk. At 
first he assumed the judicial title of Lord Barskimming, afterwards 
that of Lord Glenlee. He was in 1788 created a baronet, and raised 
to the office of Lord President. He died in 1789. Ilis son, 
William, second baronet, was a judge by the title of Lord Glenlee. 
Tlie baronetcy is now represented by Sir W^illiam Frederick Miller, 
the fifth baronet. 

Embracing the nautical profession, Patrick Miller visited in 
connexion with the merchant service various parts of the world. 
He afterwards settled as a banker in Edinburgh, and largely 
prospered. Purchasing the lands of Dalswinton in the valley of 
the Nith, he acquired the important status of a country landowner. 
Elected deputy chairman of the Bank of Scotland, he succeeded iu 
placing the institution on a substantial basis. 

Eager in extending his patronage to persons of merit, Mr. 
Miller hailed Robert Burns on his arrival in the capital. The first 
monetary donation which the Bard received in compliment to his 
genius proceeded from his liand. The Poet alludes to his liberality 
in a letter to Mr. Ballantiue of Ayr, dated the 13th December 
1786. Therein he writes : — 

An unknown hand left ten guineas for the Ayrshire bard with Mr. Sibbald, 
which I got. I since have discovered my gcncroiis unknown friend to be 


Patrick Miller, Esq., brother to the Justice Clerk, and drank a glass of claret 
with him by invitation at his own house yesternight. 

The estate which Mr. Miller had acquired possesses an historic 
interest. "Within the old castle of Dalswinton had resided Sir 
John Comyn, the Scottish regent, and the structure was reduced 
to ruin by King Kobert the Bruce, after his slaughter of its 
proud occupant. Burns had gone to Edinburgh with a view to 
obtaining employment in the Excise, but Mr. Miller, fired with the 
notion of further connecting his lands with another person of 
eminence, encouraged him to rent a farm on his estate. Writing to 
Mr. Ballantine on the 14th January 1787, the Poet remarks : — 

My generous friend Mr. Patrick Miller has been talking Avith me about a 
lease of some farm or other on an estate called Dalswinton, which he has lately 
bought near Dumfries. Some life-rented embittering recollections whisper me 
that I will be happier anyAvhere than in my old neighbourhood, but Mr. Miller 
is no judge of land ; and though I daresay he means to favour me, yet he may 
give me, in his opinion, an advantageous bargain that may ruin me. I am to 
take a tour by Dumfries as I return, and have promised to meet Mr. Miller on 
his lands some time in May. 

Dalswinton estate presented soil of two sorts. There was some 
fine holm-land which adjoined the river, and a series of gravelly 
terraces ascending towards the hills, and partially clothed with 
plantations. But the entire lands, hill and holm, were out of heart, 
and so they appeared both to owner and prospective tenant, as, 
during the first week of June 1787, they together walked over the 
estate. They parted under promise that they would have a further 
meeting upon the soil about the end of August. That meeting did 
not ensue. On the 28th of September the Poet communicated 
with Mr. Miller in these terms : — 

Sir, — I have been on a tour through the Highlands, and arrived in town 
but the other day, so could not wait on you at Dalswinton about the latter end 


of AugUHt, itM 1 liud i>runiiHetl and iiitciuletl. IiulfiKundont of any views of 
future cotinoctiuuH, wluit I owo you for the past, as a friend aiul benefactor, 
when fricniU I had f(*w and bonofuotors I luid none, strongly in my Ijosom 
]krohibit8 the most distant instance of ungrateful disrespect. I am informeil you 
do not come to town for a month still, and within that time I shall certainly 
wait on you, as by this time I suppose you will have .si^ttled your sclumo witli 
respect to your farms. 

The Poet concludes a postscript to his letter in these words : — 

As I am detcrmine<l not to leave Edinburgh till I wind up my matters with 
Mr. Creech, which T nm afraid will be a tedious business, should I unfortun* 
ately miss you at Dalswinton, perhaps your factor will be able to inform me of 
your intentions with roRjx'ct to the Ellisland farm, which will save me a jaunt 
to Edinburgh again. Thei-e is something so suspicious in the profeasions of 
attachment from a little man to a great man, that I know not how to do justice 
to the gnitoful warmth of my heart, when I would say how truly I am interested 
in the welfare of your little tro<^)p of angels, and how ima-h I have Uia lionm 
to be again, sir, your obliged humble servant. 

Meanwliile the Poet proceeded to Pertlishire, there to fulfil some 
visits to which lie had pledged himself. Returning to Edinburgh, 
he communicated with Mr. Miller in these terms : — 

Edinburgh, 20//i (kUA)er 1787. 

Sir, — I wa> spen«liiig a few ilays at Sir William Murray's, Ochtcrtyre, and 
did not get your obliging letter till to-day I came to town, I was still more 
unlucky in catching a miserable cold, for which the medical gentlemen have 
onlered me into close confinement " under jmin of death " — tlie severest of 
jienalties. In two or three days, if I get Iwtter, and if I hear at your lodgings 
that you are still at Dolswinton, I will take a ride to Dumfries directly. From 
something in your last, I would wish to explain my idea of being your tenant 
I want to be a farmer in a small farm, about a ploughgang,* in a pleasant 

* The Poet's idea of beiug able to support bered that he was still untnarried, and that hb 
hijuself on a farm of forty Scottish acrea was only notion of housekeeping had been derirad 
sutiicieiitly modest. But it must be reniem- fmni his exi>eriences at LiK<lilea and Moaagiel. 


country, under the auspices of a good landlord. I have no foolish notion of 
being a tenant on easier terms than another. To find a farm where one can live 
at all is not easy, — I only mean living soberly, like an old-style farmer, and 
joining personal industry. The banks of the Nith are as sweet, poetic ground 
as any I ever saw ; and besides, sir, 'tis but justice to the feelings of my own 
heart, and the opinions of my best friends, to say that I would wish to call you 
landlord sooner than any landed gentleman I know. These are my views and 
wishes ; and in whatever way you think best to lay out your farms, I shall be 
happy to rent one of them. I shall certainly be able to ride to Dalswinton 
about the middle of next week, if I hear that you are not gone. 

Before the end of autumn the Poet revisited Dalswinton ; and 
entertaining generally Mr. Miller's proposals, he in the following- 
February made a further inspection of the soil, accompanied by a 
skilful agriculturist, his early and attached friend, Mr. Tennant at 

In examining the lands, Burns and Mr. Tennant were attended 
by Mr. Miller's land-steward, John Cunningham, whose sons, Allan 
and Thomas Mounsey, were destined to excel as sweet and vigorous 
poets, and the former to become one of the Bard's biographers. 
Three farms were severally gone over, each being placed in the 
Poet's offer — Foregirth, a wheat-producing haugh ; Bankhead, also 
considerably productive ; and the farm of EUisland, pleasantly lying 
on the south or right bank of the Nith. From the outset Burns 
preferred EUisland, chiefly in respect of its eligible situation. It 
embraced upwards of one hundred acres — part holm and part croft 
land, the former adapted for wheat, the latter suited for potatoes 
and corn. But every portion of the ground, as of the other farms 
on the estate, was in a wretched state of exhaustion, and tit only 
to be reclaimed under the skill and management and liberal expendi- 
ture of experienced husbandmen.^ 

^ Writing on the 24th September 1810, Mr. estate, about five-and-twenty years ago, I had 
Miller remarks : " When I purchased this not seen it. It was in the most miserable state 


Fully cognizant of the neglected condition of the soil, Mr. Miller 
arranged with the Poet on terms which seemed not unreasonable. 
He granted a lease of seventy-six years, at a rent of fifty pounds for 
the first three years, and seventy for the remainder ; agreeing further 
to give his tenant three hundred pounds to build a new farm-stead- 
ing and enclose the fields. lie also reserved to himself a right to 
plant a belt of two acres to shelter the farm on the north-west, and 
a precipitous bank which overhung the river. 

A practical mechanician, Mr. Miller had, in the year 1785, com- 
menced a series of experiments in naval architecture and the propul- 
sion of vessels, which subsequently rendered him con.spicuous. In 
1786 he constructed a vessel with five masts, fitted up with paddle- 
wheels, which, armed with carronades, — or guns with chambers, also 
of his invention, — he offered to the Government of the day, and 
on their declinature presented to Gustavus III. of -Sweden. In 
acknowledgment, he received from the King an autograph letter, 
accompanied l)y a gold box which contained a packet of turnip-seed, 
from which sprung the first Swedish turnips grown in this countrj'. 

While negotiating with the Poet as to his becoming a tenant on 
his estate, Mr. Miller was actively pushing forward his naval inven- 
tions. In February 1787 he printed at Edinburgh a folio pamphlet,' 
containing a description and drawings of a triple vessel, propelled 
either by sails, or l)y i)addle-wheels, revolving in the channels between 
the vessel's three hulls, — the wheels being driven by capstans, and 
worked by manual labour. But Mr. Miller's pamphlet is chiefly 
remarkable as contiining the following sentence : — ** I have also 

of exhaustion, ami all the tenants in i«vcrty. this country." — Otntrai Vitw <^f the Agrintl- 

Judge of the first, wlien I iufomi you that oata turt 0/ Dun\frif*»hirt, 8?o, Edin. 1812. 

ready to bo out were sold at 258. per acre, upon * Mr. Miller's pamphlet U entiUeU, THe 

the holm grounds. When I went to view my EleraiioHf Section, Plan, amd Twini <j/" a 

purchase, I was so much disgusted for eight or Trijile VeMtl, tutd <if Wheel*, tcith Sxpiama' 

ten days, that I thou meant never to return to liotiM, folio, pp. 13. 


reason to believe that the power of the steam-engine may be applied 
to work the wheels, so as to give them a quicker motion, and con- 
sequently to increase that of the ship." For the suggestion as to 
the application of the steam-engine, Mr. Miller was indebted to Mr. 
James Taylor, an accomplished scientist, who, in 1785, became tutor 
to two of his sons, and afterwards assisted him in his experiments. 
But Mr. Miller was considerably wedded to his own method of 
propelling his wheels by cranks wrought with hand labour. In 
experimenting he was much hampered by a law then in force, which 
regulated the proportion of breadth to length in merchant vessels, 
and so prevented his adopting a suitable proportion. In a com- 
munication to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, dated 5th December 
1787, he detailed the experiments he had on the 2nd day of June 
preceding made in a twin or double vessel in the Firth of Forth. 
This vessel he described as sixty feet long and fourteen and a half 
feet broad, with one paddle-wheel, which, when driven by five men 
at the capstan, propelled at a speed of from three and a half to four 
and a half miles an hour. 

In 1788 Mr. Miller engaged William Symington, a mechanical 
engineer, employed at the Wanlockhead lead mines, to make a 
steam-engine capable of driving the two paddle-wheels of a double 
pleasure-boat, which he had provided on Dalswinton Loch. The 
engine being duly fitted, an experiment was made in October, when 
the boat was propelled at five miles an hour. The small steam- 
engine used on the occasion is preserved in the Andersonian Museum 
at Glasgow. 

Encouraged by the approval of his friends, Mr. Miller purchased 
one of the boats used upon the Forth and Clyde Canal, and 
employed the Carron Iron Company to construct a steam-engine on 
the i^lan devised by Symington. On the 26th December the new 
steamer tugged a heavy load on the canal at the speed of seven 


miles an hour. IIiul liin energetic measures continued, it is not 
uncertain that Mr. Miller would have become permanently associated 
with the c)ri;^nn of steam navigation. But of a sudden he abandoned 
his expcrimentH. In a letter to Mr. Taylor he stated that he had 
become satisfied that ** Symington's steam-engine was the most 
improper of all steam-engines for giving motion to a vessel." 
This opinion was well founded, for in Symington's original engine 
the motion was communicated from the pistons to the revolving 
shafts by a combination of chains, pulleys, and ratchet wheels, 
which produced a jerking and jarring motion, fatal alike to economy 
of power and to durability. But Symington persevered, and, 
adopting Watt's double-acting engine, with its crank to the paddle- 
wheel, produced in 1801 the first practical steaml)oat, the Charlotte 

Mr. Miller's well-intentioned experiment of providing on his 
estate for the national Poet was not more fortunate than his effort 
in improving navigation. From the outset Ellisland farm had 
proved to the new tenant an incubus and a snare. The land 
required a process of enrichment he was unable to provide, and a 
skilful application of resources which it was not in his power to 
supply. Entering the farm in June 1788, he finally quitted the 
occupancy in December 1791. Prior to October of the latter year 
Mr. Miller became purchaser of the lease. Of this we are informed 
by the Poet in a letter which he addressed to Mr. Peter HilL To 
that gentleman he writes : — 

I may perhaps sec you about Martinmas. I have sold to my landlord the 
lease of my farm, and as I roup off everything then, I have a mind to take a 
week's excursion to see old acquaintance. . . . Mr. Miller's kindness has 
been just such another as Creech's was, but this for your private ear, — 

His meddling vanity, a busy fiend. 

Still making work his selfish craft must mend. 


111 one essential respect Mr. Miller profited by the Poet's 
removal, for on the 19th of November 1791, his neighbour, Mr. 
Maine, became the purchaser of EUisland for the sum of £2000. 

With Mr. Miller the Bard continued to maintain friendly rela- 
tions. When in the spring of 1793 was issued a new edition of his 
poems, one of the copies which he received from the publisher he 
presented to the laird of Dalswinton. He accompanied the gift by 
a letter in these terms : — 

Dumfries, A;pril 1793. 
SiK, — My poems having just come out in another edition, will you do me 
the honor to accept of a copy % A mark of my gratitude to you, as a gentle- 
man to whose goodness I have been much indebted ; of my respect for you as a 
patriot, who, in a venal sliding age, stands forth the champion of the liberties of 
my country ; and of my veneration for you, as a man whose benevolence of 
heart does honor to human nature. There icas a time, sir, when I was your 
dependant ; this language then would have been very like the vile incense of 
flattery — I coidd not have used it. Now that that connexion is at an end, do 
me the honor to accept of this honest tribute of respect from, sir, your most 
indebted, humble servant. 

Mr. Miller continued to exercise the inventive faculty. He 
contrived the first drill plough used in this country ; also a 
threshing-machine pmpelled by horse power, and a new plough. 
He also introduced the feeding of cattle on steamed potatoes. He 
was an ardent cultivator of fiorin jijrass. From the agricultural 
societies he received presents of two silver vases in token of 
appreciation and honour. Latterly he wjis pecuniarily involved, 
and his estate mortgaged. He died at Dalswinton on the 9th 
December 1815, at the advanced age of eighty-four. His remains 
were removed to Edinburgh, and there deposited in the Greyfriai-s 

Patrick, Mr. Miller's eldest son, served as a captain in the army. 
In the Whig interest he w^as elected member for the Dumfries 

PATRICK MILLhk (>/■' UAL^WIN iuN, 81 

burglis at the gencriil election in 1790, in opposition to Sir James 
Jolinstonc of Westcrhall, the former meml^er. In the ballad of 
"T1h» Five Carlincs," he is hy tlie Poet celebrated thus: — 

Then noxt came in a nodger youth, 

And sjmk wi' nio«l«8t grace, 
An' he wad gao to Ix)n'on town, 

If 800 tlieir pleasure was. 

I If Wiuliiti liecliL' Ihcin rutirlly giftji, 

Nor niuikle Kjieech pretend ; 
But ho wad hecht an honest heart, 

Wad ne'er desert a friend. 

Some time in the autumn of 1793, after he had composed his 
ode of '• Scots wha hae," the Poet communicated a copy to Captain 
Miller, preceded by the following note : — 

Dear Sir, — The following ode is on a subject which I know you by no 
means regard with indififerencc, — 

Thou mak'st the gloomy face of Nature gay, 
Ciiv'st beauty to the sun, and pleasure to the day. 

It does me so much good to meet with a man whose honest bosom glows with 
the generous enthusiasm, the heroic daring of liberty, that I could not forbear 
sending you a composition of my own on the subject, which I really think is in 
my best manner. I have the honor to be, dear sir, etc^ 

' Proiiiisi'. custodier, u head and roprraeoUtivp of the 

' In connexion witli this letter, bearing on family to which the S<-otti»h IHitriot belonged, 

the Mtnie bht'ct a copy of the ode of " Scotti wha On Mr. Wallaoe'a death in 1S55, the MS. 

hae" in tlie Tort's liandwriting, the writer may became the prop«'rty of his brother, Qeueral Sir 

be allowed in a uott> to present the suksequent James Maxwell Wallace, who had it suitably 

history. By a son of Captain Miller the sheet framed and enclosed. When on the 24th June 

was presented to the celebrated Mr. R«)bert 1861, the National Wallace Monument w»a 

Wallace of Kelly, M.T., acconqtanieil by fonndeil on the Abbey Craig, the Geneial 

a letter, reiiiarkiug that he was the pio|»cr handed the framed autograph to the writer, aa 


Not long afterwards Captain Miller brought the Poet's claims 
under the notice of Mr. Perry of the Morning Chronicle, with a 
view to his making a literary settlement in London. Not unaware 
of his poetical celebrity, Mr. Perry encouraged the member for 
Dumfries to offer him an immediate appointment on the literary 
staff of his journal. To Captain Miller's letter the Poet replied in 
these terms : — 

Dumfries, November 1794, 
My Dear Sir, — Your offer is indeed truly generous, and most sincerely 
do I thank you for it; but in my present situation I find that I dare not 
accept it. You well know my political sentiments; and were I an insular 
individual, unconnected with a wife and a family of children, with tlie most 
fervid enthusiasm I would have volunteered my services. I then could and 
would have despised all consequences that might have ensued. My prospect in 
the Excise is something ; at least it is, encumbered as I am with the welfare, 
the very existence of nearly half a score of helpless individuals — what I dare 
not sport with. In the meantime they are most welcome to my ode ; ^ only, 
let them insert it as a thing they have met with by accident, and unknown to 
me. Nay, if Mr. Perry, whose honor, after your character of him, I , cannot 
doubt, if he will give me an address and channel by which anything will come 
safe from those spies with which he may be certain that his correspondence is 
beset, I will now and then send him any bagatelle that I may write. In the 
present hurry of Europe, nothing but news and politics will be regarded ; but 

secretary of the Monument Committee, with a under the auctioneer's hammer. The present 

view to its being permanently exhibited in possessor is unknown. 

the structure. When in 1863 the writer left ^ In the Library edition of Burns's Works, the 

Stirling to reside in London, he, at the editor, Mr. Scott Douglas, suggests that the ode 

General's request, returned the MS. to his here referred to was that composed by the Poet 

custody. General Sir James Wallace died in "for General Washington's birthday," a com- 

1867, and not having expressed in writing any position only known in ]m-t to Dr. Currie, and 

special intention as to the disposal of the of which the whole was recovered in 1872. — 

autograph, it was by his executors exposed to Burns's Works, vol. iii. 194 ; vi. 143. Against 

public sale. There was considerable competi- this theory there arises the fact, which Mr. 

tion, but it fell to Mr. Robert Thallon, merchant, Scott Douglas seems to have forgotten, that 

New York, at the price of twelve pounds. Mr. the ode which accompanied the Poet's previous 

Thallon died on the 12th May 1882, and by his letter to Captain Miller was that of " Scots 

representatives the autograph was again brought wha hae." 


n^:iinsl the days of peace;, which lifUviMi .hcmhI ficMtn, my little oiwiMtiince may 
{)crhap.s till up an idle column of a iiewspaptr. I have long \\vA it in my head 
to try my hand in tho way of little prosu cH.sayM, which I propose sending into 
the world through thu medium of some mwKpaiHr ; and Mhould these be worth 
his while, to these Mr. I'erry shall l>u welcome ; and all my reward shall be, hia 
treating mo with his jmper; which, by tho byo, to anylxnly who has the least 
relish for wit, is a high treat indeed. With the most grateful esteem, I am ever, 
dear sir, etc. 

Captain Miller represented the Dumfries burghs till the general 
election in 1796. He succeeded to Dalswinton on the death of his 
father, but the estate was afterwards sold. In a paper contributed 
to the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal of July 1825, afterwards 
printed separately, he claimed that his father should " be held and 
acknowledged as the real author of the modem system of navigation 
by means of steam." He died on the 26th February 1845, leaving 
by his wife, Matilda Gumming, three sons and two daughters. 

Major William Miller, second son of Patrick Miller of Dalswinton, 
the Poet's friend, served in the Royal Hoi-se Guards, and after his 
retirement settled in Dumfriesshire. He married, first, Jessie, 
second daughter of Provost Staig of Dumfries ; secondly, a daughter 
of Sir Edward Every, of Eggington Hall, Derby, with a numerous 
issue. Major Miller's first wife was the recipient of several compli- 
ments from the Poet ; probably the best known being the four lines 
ill which lie denied all merit to the physician for her recovery from 
a fever, declaring that " an angel could not die." On another 
occasion he thus celebrated her charms : — 

To itjual young Jessie, seek Scotland all over; 

To oijual young Jessie, you seek it in vain : 
CI race, beauty, and elegance, fetter her lover. 

And maidenly modesty fixes the chain. 

Mrs. Jessie ^liller died in 1801, at the age of twenty-six. 



An assertion commonly made by Scottish biographical writers, that 
the family of which Dr. John Moore was a member derived descent 
from the house of Mure of Rowallan, is unsupported by evidence. 
In a letter to the writer, Mr. John Carrick-Moore of Corswall, grand- 
son of Dr. Moore, remarks that " there is not the smallest ground 
for suspecting any connexion between the families." Moore, a 
modern form of the more ancient More, is an Irish surname. A 
Captain Charles Moore served in the siege of Londonderry in 1689. 
Mr. Charles Moore, a relative of this gentleman, born at Armagh 
about 1690, migrated to Scotland as a private tutor, and on the 
24th June 1713 was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Dun- 
fermline. By the same Presbytery he was appointed to the second 
charge of Culross, and on the 10th May 1715 was ordained to 
the charge. From Culross he was on the 19th February 1718 
translated to the second charge of Stirling.^ Attached to the 
evangelical section of the Church, he was an earnest and vigorous 
expounder of the sacred volume, though his public usefulness was 
marred by an eccentric manner and a peculiar utterance. After a 
short ministry of twenty -two years, he died in November 1736.^ 

Mr. Charles Moore married at Kilsyth, on the 27th October 
1727, Marion Hay, daughter of John Anderson of Dowhill, merchant 
in Glasgow, and Lord Provost of the city. In the cause of civil 
and religious liberty the family of Anderson of Dowhill were 
conspicuous sufferers. Mrs. Moore's grandfather, John Anderson, 
younger of Dowhill, was, by the Government of Charles II. and 
James VII., subjected to much persecution. On the 28th June 
1677 he was charged before the Privy Council with frequenting 

1 FoMti. Eccl. Scot. ii. 588, 679. 2 Ibid. ii. 679. 

JOHN nrnoRF, M.D. 85 

conventi<de8, and as he admitted tlmt his child wtis baptized by an 
indulf(e<l minister, and that he liad attended fichl preacliings, he 
was amerced in a penalty of £500 sterling. Refusing to make 
payment, he was for nearly four months imprisoned in the Tolbootli 
of Edinburgh ; he was liWrated on consenting to pay £2000 Scots. 
On the 25th July 1G83, he was, along with a large number of other 
prominent and influential persons, committed to prison under a 
eharge of rebellion. Subsequent to the Revolution, he held for 
eight successive years the office of f.ord Provost of Glasgow ; he was 
also elected Member of rarliament for the city.' By largely 
embarking in the Darien scheme, he materially impaired the family 
resources. By her marriage -contract, dated 25th Octol)er 1727, 
Mrs. Moore's " lands and other subjects " are named as having 
been disponed to her husband as tocher, but on the production 
of the instrument in the Commissary Court of Stirling, subsequent 
to his decease, it was shown that Mrs. Moore's personal estate was 
comprehended in an annuity of 200 marks, while Mr. Moore at 
the time of his marriage, also of his death, was possessed of a 
capital of 9000 marks.' 

With a revenue derived from the proceeds of her huslmnd's 
estate, in which she was liferented, and her small personal annuity, 
Mrs. Moore after her husband's death took up her residence in 
Glasgow. There she became known for her vigorous understand- 
ing, also for her benevolence and piety ; but she was chiefly adorned 
by the domestic virtues, devoting herself to the careful instruction 
and religious upbringing of her young and fatherless children. She 
died on the 30th July 1778. 

Of the marrinije of Mr. Charles Moore and JMarion llav 
Anderson wore born three sons — John : Charles, baptized 14tli May 

' WckI row's History of' Ihf Chiirrh, tlli^i^'W, - t. onnmssary Court lionk oi Miriing, ActB, 

1829, 8vo., ii. 3G0, 387 ; iii. 406. vol. xxx. 54, Jamiarj- 1737. 


1732, and who died in infancy; and Charles Barbara, born pos- 
thumously, baptized 20th May 1737, and died young; also four 
daughters, Jean, baptized 9th October 1728 ; Anne, baptized 17th 
February 1731 ; Marion, baptized 26th December 1733, married, 
8th August 1785, Dr. William Porteous, minister of St George's 
Church, Glasgow, and died 4th March 1817, without issue; and 
Mary, baptized 16th March 1735.^ One of the daughters married 
George Macintosh of Dunhatton, merchant, Glasgow, who introduced 
the manufacture of cudbear and Turkey-red dyeing into that city, 
Charles Macintosh, a son of the marriage, acquired celebrity as 
inventor of the caoutchouc raiment manufacture. Born at Glasgow 
on the 29th December 1766, he studied chemistry under the 
celebrated Dr. Black of Edinburgh, and afterwards prosperously 
conducted a waterproof manufactory, first at Glasgow^, and latterly 
at Manchester. He acquired lands at Campsie, and died on the 
25th July 1843, at the age of seventy-seven. 

John, the eldest son, was born at Stirling, and on the 7th 
December 1729 was there baptized by the Rev. Alexander Hamilton, 
minister of the first charge of the parish.^ At the High School 
of Glasgow, discovering a remarkable aptitude for learning, he 
entered upon the study of medicine at the University of that city. 
So early as his seventeenth year he was, by Colonel Campbell 
of the 54th Regiment, afterwards fifth Duke of Argyle, introduced 
to the hospitals in connexion with the British army in Flanders. 
Soon afterwards he was, on the recommendation of Dr. Middleton, 
Director-General of Military Hospitals, appointed by the Earl of 
Albemarle, colonel of the Coldstream Guards, to the office of 
assistant surgeon to that regiment, then quartered at Flushing. 
Returning to Great Britain on the conclusion of peace in 1748, he 

' Stirling IJaptisinal Register. 

* Ibid. Ill all the biographies, Dr. Moore is described as boru iu the year 1730. 


prosecuted medical study in London ; and proceeding to Paris to 
attend the hospitals of that city, was appointed surgeon to the 
housch<jld of Lord Al])emarle, now ambassador at the French Court. 
After an interval of two years, Mr. Moore returned to Glasgow to 
l)ecomo the partner of his early friend, Dr. Gordon, an eminent 
medical practitioner in that city. Subsequently he became associated 
in the medical practice of Professor Hamilton of the University. 

Though some years a married man, and the father of scvend 
children, Mr. Moore was not quite reconciled to the monotonous 
duties of a medical practitioner. Accordingly, when, early in 1769, 
his early patron, the Duke of Argyle, requested him to attend his 
step-son, the young Duke of Hamilton, in foreign travels, he readily 
accepted the charge. With the Duke, then in his fourteenth year, he 
proceeded to the Continent, but by the death of the young nobleman 
a few months afterwards the connexion was abruptly dissolved. 
In the following year Mr. Moore was selected to attend the brother 
and heir of his deceased pupil, Douglas, the eighth Duke of 
Hamilton. With this nobleman he remained on the Continent 
several years, continuing his companionship till the Duke, in 1777, 
attained his majority. 

In 1772 Mr. Moore obtained his diploma as M.D. from the 
University of Glasgow. He removed his family from Glasgow to 
London in 1778, and in the following year published, in two octavo 
volumes, his View of Society and Manners in France, Smtzerland, 
and Germany. From its vivacity and intelligence this work com- 
manded wide acceptance, and was translated into French, German, 
and Italian. Encouraged by the success of his first enterprise, as 
an author, he issued in 1781 A View of Society and Manners in 
Italy, also in two octavo volumes, but this work was received less 

In the metropolis Dr. Moore had, in order to the attainment of 


any considerable medical practice, settled soinewliat late in life. 
But, in order to show that he had not abandoned his profession 
for literary studies, he issued in 1786 a volume entitled Medical 
Sketches, in which he discourses on several important topics relative 
to health and disease, illustrating his subject by pleasing details 
and humorous and sarcastic sketches. A correspondent of Mrs. 
Dunlop, he learned through that accomplished gentlewoman as to 
the appearance of the Ayrshire Bard. In a letter to the Poet, 
dated 30th December 1786, Mrs. Dunlop communicated to him 
some expressions in eulogy of his verses, extracted from Dr. Moore's 
recent letters to her, together with her assurance that a letter from 
the Bard would yield him satisfiiction. Writing to Mrs. Dunlop on 
the 15th January 1787, Burns expresses his difficulty in concocting 
a letter to his new admirer. He writes : — 

I wished to have written to Dr. Moore before I wrote to you ; but though, 
every day since 1 received yours of December 30th, the idcci, the wish to write 
to him has constantly pressed on my thoughts, yet I could not for my soul set 
about it. I know his fame and character, and I am one of " the sons of little 
men." To write him a mere matter-of-fact affair, like a merchant's order, 
would be disgracing the little character I have ; and to write the author of 
the View of Society and Manners a letter of sentiment — 1 declare every artery 
runs cold at the thought. I shall try, however, to write to him to-morrow or 
next day. His kind interposition in my behalf I have already experienced, as 
a gentleman waited on me the other day, on the part of Lord Eglintoun, with 
ten guineas, by way of subscription for two copies of my next edition. 

Probably within the time indicated, the Poet communicated 
with Dr. Moore. The letter, which is undated, proceeds thus : — 

Edinburgh, 1787. 
Sir, — Mrs. Dunlop has been so kind as to send me extracts of letters she 
has had from you, where you do the rustic bard the honor of noticing him and 
his works. Those who have felt the anxieties and solicitudes of authorship 


can only kuuw what plousuru it gives to bo noticed in such a manner by jutlgcs 
of tho firHt chnracter. Your criticisms, sir, I receive with reverence; only I am 
sorry they inoHtly conio too lato ; a (leccant {KiHsngc or two that I would certainly 
Itave altered, were gone to the press. Tho hope to bo admired for ages is, in 
by far tho greatest part of those even who are authors of repute, an unsub- 
stantial dream. For my part, my lirst ambition was, and still my strongest 
wish is, to pleaso my compeers, the rustic inmates of the hamlet, while ever- 
changing language and manners shall allow me to be rolislied and undcrstuod. 
I am very willing to admit that 1 have some poetical abilities ; and as few, if 
any writi-rs, either moral or ix)etical, are intimately acquainted with the classes 
of mankind among whom I have chiefly mingled, I may have seen men and 
manners in a ilifTertMit pluisis from what is common, which may assist originality 
of thought. Still, I know very well the novelty (»f my character has by far 
tho greatest share in the learned and iK>lite notice I have lately had ; and in a 
language where Pope and Churchill have raised the laugh, and Shenstone and 
Gray drawn tho tear ; where Thomson and Beattic have painted the landscape, 
and Lyttleton and Collins described tho heart — I am not vain enough to hope 
for distinguished poetic fame. 

Dr. Moore replied in these terms : — 

CuFFORD Strbbt, January 23rti, 1787. 

Sir, — I have just received your letter, by which I find I have reason to 
complain of my friend ^frs. Dunlop, for transmitting to you extracts from my 
letters to her, by much too freely and too carelessly written for your perusal. 
I must forgive her, however, in consideration of her good intention, as you will 
forgive mo, I hoym, for the freedom I use with cortiiin expressions, in considerar 
tion of my admiration of tho poems in general. If I may judge of the author's 
disposition from his works, with all the other good qualities of a i)oct, he has 
not tho irritable temper ascribed to that race of men by one of their own 
number, whom you have the happiness to resemble in ease and curious felicity 
of expression. Indeed, tho iKwtical beauties, however original and brilliant ami 
lavishly scattered, are not all I admire in your works ; the love of your native 
country, that feeling sensibility to all the objects of humanity, ond the inde- 
pendent spirit which breathes through the whole, give me a most favourable 
impression of the poet, and have made me oflcn regret that I did not soe the 


poems, the certain effect of which would have been my seeing the author last 
summer, when I was longer in Scotland than I have been for many years. 

I rejoice very sincerely at the encouragement you receive at Edinburgh, and 
I think you particularly fortunate in the patronage of Dr. Blair, who, I am 
informed, interests himself very much for you. I beg to be remembered to 
him ; nobody can have a warmer regard for that gentleman than I have, which, 
independent of the worth of his character, would be kept alive by the memory 
of our common friend, the late Mr. George B[annatyne]. 

Before I received your letter, I sent, enclosed in a letter to , a sonnet 

by Miss Williams, a young poetical lady, which she wrote on reading your 
" Mountain Daisy : " perhaps it may not displease you : — 

While soon " the garden's flaunting flowers " decay 

And scattered on the earth neglected lie, 
The " Mountain Daisy," cherished by the ray 

A poet drew from heaven, shall never die. 
Ah, like that lonely flower the poet rose, 

'Mid penury's bare soil and bitter gale : 
He felt each storm that on the mountain blows, 

Nor ever knew the shelter of the vale. 
By genius in her native vigour nurst, 

On nature with impassioned look he gazed ; 
Then through the cloud of adverse fortune burst 

Indignant, and in light unborrowed blazed. 
Scotia ! from rude affliction shield thy Bard ; 
His heaven-taught numbers Fame herself will guard. 

I have been trying to add to the number of your subscribers, but find that 
many of my acquaintance are already among them. I have only to add that, 
with every sentiment of esteem, and the most cordial good wishes, I am your 
obedient, humble servant. 

The Poet had, in the tone of Dr. Moore's letter, discovered a 
correspondent in perfect accordance with his heart. He found in 
him a Scotsman, who, in leaving his country, had not quitted her 
recollections, and was quick to apprehend and appreciate aught 


wliich teinlod to lier honour anil tlie prosperity of the deserving of 
lier sons. To Dr. Moore's communication he replied thus : — 

EDiNBURon, 16//i Feb. 1787. 

Revered Sir, — Pardon my sceniing uoglect iu delaying so long to acknowledge 
the honor you have done me in your kind notice of mc, January 23rd. Not 
many months ngo I knew no other employment than following the plough, nor 
cuuld boast anytliing higher than a distant acquaintance with a coimtry clergy- 
man. ^Icre greatness never embarrasses me ; I have nothing to ask from the 
great, and I do not fear their judgment ; but genius, polished by learning, and 
at its proper jioint of (elevation in the eye of the world, this of late I frequently 
moot with, and tremble at its approach. I scorn the affectation of seeming 
modesty to cover self-conceit. That I have some merit I do not deny ; but I 
see with frequent wringiugs of heart, that the novelty of my character, and the 
honest national prejudice of my countrymen, Imve borne me to a height 
altogether untenable to my abilities. For the honor Miss Williams has 
done me, please, sir, return her in my name my most grateful thanks. I have 
more than once thought of paying her in kind, but have hitherto quitteil the 
idea in hopeless dcsjKJndency. I had never before heartl of her, but the other 
day I got her poems, which for several reasons, some belonging to the head, 
and others the offspring of the heart, give mo a great deal of pleasure. I have 
little pretensions to critic lore : there arc, I think, two characteristic features in 
her poetry — the unfettered wild flight of native genius, and the querulous^ 
sombre tenderness of " time-settled sorrow." 

I only know what pleases me, often without being able to tell wliy. 

The correspondence so auspiciously begun, the genial physician 
actively followed up. In forming the acquaintance of Bums, he 
had obtained an experience in Scotti^li ninil life altogetlior now. 
J lis next letter proceeds : — 

Clifford Street, 28/A Feb. 1787. 

Dear Sir, — Your letter of the 15th gave me a great deal of pleasun . 
not surprising that you improve in correctness and taste, considering where you 
have been for some time past. And I dare swear there is no danger of your 
admitting any polish which might weaken the vigour of your native powers. 


I am glad to perceive that you disdain the nau§6ous affectation of decrying 
your own merit as a poet, an affectation which is displayed with most ostenta- 
tion by those who have the greatest share of self-conceit, and which only adds 
undeceiving falsehood to disgusting vanity. For you to deny the merit of your 
poems would be arraigning the fixed opinion of the public. 

As the new edition of my View of Society is not yet ready, I have sent you 
the former edition, which I beg you will accept as a small mark of my esteem. 
It is sent by sea to the care of Creech, and along with these four volumes for 
yourself I have also sent my Medical Sketches, in one volume, for my friend, 
Mrs. Dunlop of Dunlop. This you will be so obliging as to transmit, or, if you 
chance to pass soon by Dunlop, to give to her. 

I am happy to hear that your subscription is so ample, and shall rejoice at 
every piece of good fortune that befalls you ; for you are a very great favourite 
in my family ; and this is a higher compliment than perhaps you are aware of. 
It includes almost all the professions, and is of course a proof that your writings are 
adapted to various tastes and situations. My youngest son, who is at Winchester 
school, writes to me that he is translating some stanzas of your " Hallowe'en " 
into Latin verse for the benefit of his comrades. This union of taste partly 
proceeds, no doubt, from the cement of Scottish partiality with which they are 
all somewhat tinctured. Even your translator, who left Scotland too early in 
life for recollection, is not Avithout it. — 1 remain, with great sincerity, your 
obedient servant. 

The Poet read Dr. Moore's volumes, and confided to his pub- 
lisher, Mr. Creech, who was about to proceed to London, a letter 
in acknowledgment of the gift. That letter, which Mr. Creech 
delivered personally, proceeds thus : — 

Edinburgh, 23rtZ Api^il 1787. 

I received the books, and sent the one you mentioned to !Mrs. Dunlop. 
I am ill skilled in beating the covers of imagination for metaphors of 
gratitude. I thank you, sir, for the honor you have done me, and to 
my latest hour will warmly remember it. To be highly pleased with your 
book, is what I have in common with the world ; but to regard these volumes 
as a mark of the author's friendly esteem, is a still more supreme gratification. 
I leave Edinburgh in the course of ten days or a fortnight, and after a few 


pilgrinmgcR ovor some of tho claBsic ground of Coloiloniii, CoMrilf>nk»owe«, 
Ikinks of Vnrrow, Tweed, etc., I hIhiII return to my rural shades, in all likoli- 
hood never more to «iuit them. I have fonned many intimacies and friendflhips 
hero ; hut I am afraid they arc all of too tender a construction to hear carriage a 
humlretl antl fifty miles. To the rich, the great, tho fawhionahle, the {wlite, I 
have no eciuivalent to offer ; nnd I am afraid my motoor apftearancu will by no 
means entitlo mo to a nettletl correspondence with any of you, who are the 
pormnnont lights of gonius and litcraturo. My most respectful compliments \.n 
Miss AVilJinms. If once this tangent flight of mine were over, and I were 
returned to my wonted leisurely motion in my oM circle, I may probably 
endeavour to return her poetic compliment in kind. 

Four weeks after the date of the Poet's letter, he was addressed 
by Dr. Moore in these terms : — 

Clifford Street, 23rt/ Muy 17b7. 
Dear Sir, — I had tho i)leadurc of your letter by Mr. Creecli, and soon 
after he sent me the new edition of your poems. You seem to think it 
incumbent on you to send each subscriWr a number of copies pro|X)rtionate to 
his subscription money, hut you may depend upon it few subscribers expect 
more than one copy, whatever they sul)scril)ed ; I must inform you, however, 
that I took twelve copies for those subscriliers, for whose money you were so 
accurate as to send me a receipt ; and Lord Kglintouu told me he had sent for 
six copies for himself, as he wished to give five of thenx as presents. Some of 
the poems you have added in tliis last edition are very beautiful, particularly 
the "Winter Night," the "Address to E«linburgh," "Green Grow the Rashes," 
and the two songs immediately following, the latter of which is exquisite. 
By the way, I imagine you have a peculiar talent for such compositions, which 
you ought to indulge. No kind of jjoetry demands more delicacy or higher 
polishing. Horace is more admired on account of his Odes than all his other 
writings. But nothing now added is equal to your " Vision " and " Cotter's 
Saturday Night." In these are united fine imager}', natural and pathetic 
description, with sublimity of language and thought It is evident that you 
already possess a great variety of expression, and command of the English 
language ; you ought therefore to deal more sparingly for the future in the 
provincial dialect ; why shoidd you, by using tliat, limit tlie number of your 


admirers to those who understand the Scottish, when you can extend it to all 
persons of taste who understand the English language % In my opinion, you 
should plan some larger work than any you have as yet attempted. I mean, 
reflect upon some proper subject, and arrange the plan in your mind, without 
beginning to execute any part of it till you have studied most of the best 
English poets, and read a little more of history. The Greek and Norman 
stories you can read in some abridgment, and soon become master of the most 
brilliant facts, which most highly delight a poetical mind. You should also, 
and very soon may, become master of the heathen mythology, to which there are 
everlasting allusions in all the poets, and which in itself is charmingly fanciful. 
What will require to be studied with more attention is modern history ; that is, 
the history of France and Great Britain from the beginning of Henry VII. 's 
reign. I know very well you have a mind capable of attaining knowledge by a 
shorter process than is commonly used, and I am certain you are capable of 
making a better use of it when attained than is generally done. I beg you will 
not give yourself the trouble of writing to me when it is inconvenient, and 
make no apology when you do write, for having postponed it ; be assured of 
this, however, that I shall always be happy to hear from you. I think my 

friend, Mr. , told me that you had some poems in manuscript by you, of a 

satirical and humorous nature (in which, by the way, I think you are very 
strong), which your prudent friends prevailed on you to omit, particularly one 
called Somebodijs Confession ; ^ if you will intrust me with a sight of any of 
these, I will pawn my word to give no copies, and will be obliged to you for a 
perusal of them. I understand you intend to take a farm, and make the useful 
and respectable business of husbandry your chief occupation ; this, I hope, will 
not prevent your making occasional addresses to the nine ladies who have 
shown you such favour, one of whom visited you in the " auld clay biggin." 
Virgil, before you, proved to the world that there is nothing in the business of 
husbandry inimical to poetry, and I sincerely hope that you may afford an 
example of a good poet being a successful farmer. I fear it will not be in my 
power to visit Scotland this season ; when I do, I'll endeavour to find you out, 
for I heartily wish to see and converse with you. If ever your occasions call 
you to this place, I make no doubt of your paying me a visit, and you may 
depend on a very cordial welcome from this family. — I am, dear sir, your 
friend and obedient servant. 

' Obviously " Holy Willie's Prayer." 


The vigorous frieudship of Dr. Moore moved the Poet deeply. 
Among his patrons were not a few who held liiglicr rank, l)oth 
socially and in the world of letters, hut the London physician had 
in his connnunications so blended eulogy with criticism, and com- 
bined with his praise expressions of practical counsel, that he waa 
by the Bard more especially accepted as his Maecenas. Accordingly, 
on his brief sojourn at Mossgiel, in July and August 1787, he pre- 
pared for Dr. Moore that autobiograi)hical sketch to which, in 
relation to his early history, his several biographers have been 
muinly indebted. That sketch commences and closes in these 
terms : — 

Mauciiline, id Aufjtut 1787. 
Sir, — For some months past I have been rambling over the country, but I 
am now coiitincd with some lingering complaints, originating, as I take it, in the 
stomach. To divert my spirits a little in this miserable fog of ennuiy I have 
taken a whim to give you a history of myself. My name has made some little 
noise in this country ; you have done me the honor to interest yourself very 
warmly in my behalf ; and I think a faithful account of what character of a 
man I am, and how I came by that character, may jwrhaps amuse you in an 
idle moment. I will give you an honest narrative, though I know it will be 
often at my own expense ; for I assure you, sir, I have, like Solomon, whose 
character, excepting in the trifling affair of tcisdoitiy I sometimes think I 
resemble, — I have, I say, like him tunml my ryes to behold madnrsg and folly^ 
and like him, too, frequently shaken hands with their intoxicating friendship. 
. . . iVfter you have perused those pages, should you think them trifling and 
imixrtincnt, I only beg leave to tell you that the poor author wrote them under 
some twitching qualms of conscience, arising from suspicion that he was doing 
what ho ought not to do — a predicament he has more than once l)oen in before. 

After a considerable interval, the Poet, in a letter dated 4th 
January 1789, approached his London correspondent with the 
request that he would extend his influence in securing him the 
appointment of a district officer of Excise. In his letter he informs 


Dr. Moore as to the profits of his Edinburgli edition, and of the 
mode in which these profits had been applied. He also announces 
his marriage, expresses dissatisfaction with the conduct of his pub- 
lisher, Mr. Creech, and encloses a copy of his poetical epistle to his 
friend and benefactor, Mr. Graham. 

Not long afterwards the Poet again communicated with the 
physician. His neighbour, the Rev. Edward Neilson, minister of 
Kirkbean, was proceeding to London, en route for France, on a visit 
to the Duke of Queensberry, and the Poet, while introducing his 
reverend friend, availed himself of the opportunity of evincing to 
his correspondent his powers of satire, by enclosing his lately com- 
posed lines denunciatory of the memory of a cruel and heartless 
woman, the late Mrs. Richard Oswald of Auchencruive. Dr. Moore 
thus acknowledged tlie Poet's missive : — - 

Clifford Street, \Wi June, 1789. 

Dear Sir, — I thank you for the different communications you have made 
me of your occasional productions in manuscript ; all of which have merit, and 
some of them merit of a different kind from what appears in the poems you 
have published. You ought carefully to preserve all your occasional produc- 
tions, to correct and improve them at your leisure ; and when you can select as 
many of these as will make a volume, publish it either at Edinburgh or 
London, by subscription. On such an occasion it may be in my power, as it is 
very much in my inclination, to be of service to you. If I were to offer an 
opinion, it would be that in your future productions you should abandon the 
Scottish stanza and dialect, and adopt the measure and language of modern 
English poetry. 

The stanza which you use in imitation of " Christ's Kirk on the Green," 
with the tiresome repetition of •' that day," is fatiguing to English ears, and, I 
should think, not very agreeable to Scottish. All the fine satire and humour of 
your " Holy Fair " is lost on the English ; yet, without more trouble to your- 
self, you could have conveyed the whole to them. The same is true of some of 
your other poems. In your "Epistle to J. Smith," the stanzas, from that 
beginning with this line, " This life, so far's I understand," to that which ends 


with " Short while it grieves," arc easy, flowing, gaily philosophical, and of 
Ilorotiau elegance ; the language is KngliKh with a few Scottish words, and 
some of those so harmonious as to add to the beauty ; for what poet would not 
prefer gloaming to twilight f I imagine that, by carefully keeping, and occa- 
sionally polishing and correcting thoHo verses which the Muse dictate*, you 
will, within a year or two, have another volume as large as the first ready for 
the press ; and this without diverting you from every proper attention to the 
study and practice of husbjindry, in which I understand you are very learned, 
and which I fancy you will choose to adhere to as a wife, while poetry amuses 
you from time to time as a mistress. The former, like a prudent wife, must not 
show ill-humour although you retain a sneaking kindness to this agreeable 
gipsy, and pay her occasional visits, which in no manner alienates your heart 
from your lawful spousp, but tends on the contrary to promote h*;r interest. 

Dr. Moore concludes by mlonmiig liis correspondent that he had 
caused his publisher to send him his lately published novel of 
Zeluco, of which he requests his unbiassed judgment. In connexion 
with the gift, the Poet seemed to lack courtesy by delaying his 
acknowledgment, but when it at length came, the well-turned com- 
pliment proved more than compensatory. To his friend's work, in a 
letter dated 14th July 1790, Burns refers in these terms : — 

I am sadly ungrateful in not returning you my thanks for your most 
valuable present, Zeluco. In fact, you are in some degree blameablo for my 
neglect. You were pleased to express a wish for my opinion of the work, 
which so flattered me that nothing less would serve my overweening fancy tlian 
a foriniU criticism on the book. In fact, I have gravely planned a comparative 
view of you. Fielding, Richardson, and Smollett, in your different qualities and 
merits as novel-writers. This, I own, betrays my ridiculous vanity, and I may 
probably never bring the business to bear; but I am fond of the spirit young Elihu 
shows in the book of Job — " And I said, I will also declare my opinion." I have 
quite disfigured my copy of the book with my annotations. I never take it up, 
without at the same time taking my pencil, and marking with asterisms, 
parentheses, etc. wherever I meet with an original thought, a nervous remark 
on life and manners, a remarkable, well-turned period, or a character sketched 
with uncommon precision. 


The Poet's last extant letter to Dr. Moore is dated from Ellis- 
land, 28tli February 1791. In this communication he hopefully 
refers to his Excise prospects, and he sends to his correspondent his 
ballad of "Tam o' Shanter," his "Elegy on Captain Henderson," 
and his verses on Queen Mary. In these words he resumes the 
subject of Zeluco : — 

By the way, how much is every honest heart which has a tincture of 
Caledonian prejudice, obliged to you for your glorious story of Buchanan and 
Targe ! 'Twas an unequivocal proof of your loyal gallantry of soul, giving 
Targe the victory. I should have been mortified to the ground if you had not.^ 
I have just read over once more of many times your Zeluco. I marked with 
my pencil, as I went along, every passage that pleased me particularly above the 
rest, and one or two which, with humble deference, I am disposed to think 
unequal to the merits of the book. I have sometimes thought to transcribe 
these marked passages, or at least so much of them as to point where they are, 
and send them to you. Original strokes that strongly depict the human 
heart is your and Fielding's province beyond any other novelist I have ever 
perused. Richardson, indeed, might perhaps be excepted ; but, unhappily, his 
dramatis personse are beings of another world ; and, however they may captivate 
the inexperienced romantic fancy of a boy or a girl, they will ever, in proportion 
as we have made human nature our study, dissatisfy our riper years. ^ 

In his reply, dated 29th March 1791, Dr. Moore informs the 
Poet that he had already, through the Eev. Mr. Baird, obtained 
a copy of his "Elegy on Captain Henderson" and the printed 
poem on " Alio way Church." On these gems he offers a frigid 
criticism, and repeats his former counsel as to avoiding the Scottish 
dialect. He also requests his correspondent to favour him with his 

1 In Dr. Moore's novel, Buchanan represents been very busy with Zeluco. The Doctor is so 
the Lowland Puritan feeling of Scotland, and obliging as to request my opinion on it ; and I 
Targe the Cavalier or Highland spirit. In a have been revolving in my mind some kind of 
conflict arising from a quarrel as to the honour criticisms on novel-writing, but it is a depth 
of Queen Mary, Targe is victor. beyond my research. I shall, however, digest 

2 In his letter to Mrs. Dunlop of the 6th my thoughts on the subject as well as I can. 
September 1789, the Poet remarks, "I have Ze/wco is a most sterling performance. " 


observations on Zeluco, and not to suppress his censure if any he 
had. " Trust me," he adds, " it will break no squares between us — 
r am not ukin to the Bishop of Grenada." 

Late in the summer of 1792, Dr. Moore, as medical attendant of 
the Earl of Lauderdale, visited Paris, and he there witnessed the 
insurrection of the 10th of August, the dethronement of the king, 
the terrible massacres of September, and the subsequent struggles 
up to the middle of December of that year. The result of his 
experiences he embodied in a work of two octavo volumes, which 
appeared in 1793 and 1794 with the title of A Joiirnal during a 
Residence in France, etc. Though scarcely satisfying the curio- 
sity of the British public, this work exhibits a strong picture of 
manners and feelings, and evinces much discernment and a becoming 

During the winter of 1794-95, Dr. Moore paid a long visit to 
Scotland, enjoying much personal intercourse with his correspondents 
and friends. In his letter to Ah's. Dunlop of the 12th Januarv 1795, 
the Poet writes :^- 

You will iiave seen our worthy and iugonious friend the Doctor long ere 
this. I hope he is well, and beg to be remembered to him. I have just been 
reading over again, I daresay for the hundrod-and-fiftioth time, his View of 
Society and Manners, and still I read it with delight. His humor is perfectly 
original ; it is neither the humor of Adilison, nor Swift, nor Sterne, nor of 
anybody but Dr. Moore. By the bye yon have deprived me of Zdueo ; 
remember that when you are disposed to rake up the sins of my neglect from 
among the ashes of my laziness.* He has paid me a pretty compliment by 
quoting me in his last publication. 

Whether at this period, or on occasion of a former visit, Dr. 

' Subsequently the IVt made a gift to Mrs. marginal notes in pencil. It is now in the poa* 

Dunlop of the two volumes of Ztltico, with the session of Mrs. Dunlop's great-grandson, Mr. 

inscription, "To my much-esteemed friend Mrs. Wallace Dunlop, C.B. The second volume was 

Dunlop of Dunlop." It contained the Poet's unhappily destroyed by ants in India. 


Moore formed the Poet's personal intimacy, cannot be ascertained ; 
but an earlier date is more probable. We are informed by Dr. 
Moore's grandson, Mr. John Moore of Corswall, that botli he and 
his brother learned from their father that the kindly physician 
proposed to invite the Poet to visit him in London, but that 
the proposal was stoutly opposed by his wife, on account of 
rumours which had reached her respecting the Bard's social 

In 1795 Dr. Moore issued in two octavo volumes his View of the 
Causes and Progress of the French Revolution. A second novel 
from his pen, entitled Edivard, appeared in 1796, in two volumes 
duodecimo. This was followed in 1799 by a third work of fiction, 
entitled Mordaunt, in three volumes octavo. In 1797 he prepared 
a memoir of Dr. Tobias Smollett for a collected edition of his works. 
For some years he spent his summers at Richmond ; he died at 
his residence in London on the 20th February 1802. In the follow- 
ing year were published, in two volumes crown octavo, selections 
from his writings under the title of Mooriana; and in 1820 was 
issued, in seven octavo volumes, a collected edition of his works, 
with a memoir by Dr. Robert Anderson. Undistinguished by depth 
of thought or any striking originality, Dr. Moore exhibits in his 
writings a wide range of information, which is conveyed in a style 
easy and pleasing. He everywhere indulges a sardonic wit, yet 
never fails to impress the reader with the sincerity of his purpose 
and the benevolence of his nature. In delineating life and 
manners he exhibits much acuteness, combined> with delicacy and 

Dr. Moore married Jane, youngest daughter of the Rev. James 
Simson, Professor of Divinity in the University of Glasgow, 
descended from the family of Simson of Kirkton Hall, Ayrshire, 
and a younger brother of Professor Robert Simson, the distinguished 

JOHN MOORF V ri 101 

mat]iemiiti(;ian. Of the nmrrijige were born five sons; also a 
(laughter, Jane, vvlio died unmarried in December 1842. 

J(j1ui, the eldest son, was born at Glasgow on the 13th November 
17G1.' Educated at the Higli School of his native city, he in 1776 
obtained a commission as ensign in the 5l8t Foot Promoted as 
lieutenant in the 72nd Regiment, he served in America till the 
close of the war in 1783, when his regiment was reduced, and he 
was put on half-pay. In 1780 he was, through the influence of the 
Duke of Hamilton, elected M.P. for the Lanark district of burghs. 
In I 787 he attained the rank of major in the GOth Regiment, and 
in 1788 exchanged into his first regiment, the 51st, of which in 
1790 he by purchase became lieutenant - colonel. In 1794 he 
accompanied the expedition against Corsica, and was wounded in 
storming the Mozzello fort at tlie siege of Calvi. Thereafter he 
distinguished himself under Sir Ralph Abercromby in the expedition 
against the West Indies. Returning to Great Britain in 1797, he 
was employed in suppressing the Irish revolt, afterwards joining the 
expeditions to Holland and the Mediterranean. Under Sir Ralph 
Abercromby in Egypt, he led the a.ssault at Aboukir, and at the 
battle of Alexandria was severely wounded. On the renewal of the 
war with France after the short peace of 1802, he served in Sicily 
and in the expedition to Sweden. In 1808 he was sent to Portugal, 
when he became commander-in-chief. Having advanced liis army 
of 15,000 into Spain, owing to an inaccurate representation as to 
the patriotic earnestness of the inhabitants in resisting the French 
yoke, he skilfully eflfected a retreat for a distance of two hundred 
miles, defeating the French in several skirmishes without losing a 
standard. He had determined to cml)ark his armv at Corunna, but. 
the ships not having arrived in time, he ventured, with greatly 
inferior numbers, to accept battle offered by Marshal Soult. The 

' Glasgow Baptismal Register. 


conflict took place on the 16tli January 1809, when a complete 
victory was gained by the British troops. But the gallant 
commander, struck by a cannon-ball, died in the hour of triumph. 
His military skill and gallantry were warmly commended by the 
Duke of Wellington ; and Soult, his generous adversary, afterwards 
reared at his grave at Corunna a monument to his memory. By 
order of Parliament, he received a monumental statue in St. Paul's 
Cathedral ; and his admiring and grateful fellow-countrymen have 
commemorated him at Glasgow by a marble monument in the 
Cathedral, also by a statue in George Square. In 1804 General 
Moore was appointed a Knight of the Bath. He died unmarried. 

James, second son of Dr. John Moore, was born at Glasgow on 
the 20th December 1762.^ In 1821 he assumed the additional 
surname of Carrick, in compliance with the testamentary injunction 
of his relative, Robert Carrick of the Ship Bank, Glasgow, who 
bequeathed to him the estate of Corswall in Wigtownshire, and 
other lands in the counties of Kirkcudbright and Ayr. James 
Carrick-Moore published in quarto, in 1809, Narrative of the 
Campaign of the British Army in Spain, commanded hy Lieu- 
tenant-General Sir John Moore, authenticated hy Official Papers 
and Original Letters; also at London, in 1834, in two octavo 
volumes. The Life of Lieutenant- General Sir John Moore^ K.B. 
He died 1st June 1860. Mr. Carrick-Moore married, 31st December 
1798, Harriet, only daughter of John Henderson, Esq., with issue 
two sons, also three daughters, Harriet Jane, Louisa, and Julia. 

John, the elder son, now of Corswall, was born on the 12th 
February 1805. He married, 12th April 1835, Caroline, daughter 
of John Bradley, Esq., of Colborne Hill, Staffordshire, with 
issue a son, John Graham, born 25th September 1845, and a 
daughter, Mary. 

^ Glasgow Baptismal Register. 


Graham Francis, younger son of James Carrick-Moorc of Core- 
wall, was born at London on the 18th September 1807. Having 
attondcd Westminster School, and studied at Trinity College, 
Cambridge, he was called to the English Bar, and went on the 
Western Circuit. In 1842 he, on the death of his cousin, Mrs. 
Micliell-Esmeade, inherited the estate of Monkton in Wiltshire, and 
assumed the name of Esmeade in terms of her will. Thereafter he, 
on account of feeble health, spent his winters at Rome, where he 
purchased a small property immediately to the exterior of the Porta 
del Popolo. Devoted to horticultural pursuits, he was also roputod 
for his benevolence. He died in October 1883. 

Graham, third son of Dr. John Moore, was an admiral of the 
Royal Navy and G.C.B. ; he died in 1843. He married, in 1812, 
Dora, daughter of Thomas Eden, Esq., with issue a son, John, born 
in 1821. Entering the navy, this gentleman became C.B. and 
Naval Aide-de-camp to the Queen. He died consequent on injuries 
received in the Crimean War. 

Charles, fourth son of Dr. John Moore, a barrister of Lincoln's 
Inn, held office as Auditor of Public Accounts. He died unmarried. 

Francis, fifth son of Dr. Moore, was some time Under Secretary 
for War. He married Frances, daughter of Sir William Twysden, 
Bart., and relict of Archibald, eleventh Earl of Eglinton, and left at 
his death in 1854 two sons, of whom William, the elder, was a 
lieutenant-general in the army and K.C.B. John, the younger son, 
died unmarried. 



The heroine of one of Burns's best songs, Mary Morison, resided with 
her parents at Mauchline, when the Poet rented the farm of Moss- 
giel. Mary met the Bard only once, and then at the tea-table of a 
friend ; but as his song, celebrating her charms, commences — 

Mary, at thy window be, 

it is not improbable that he had incidentally observed her as she 
stood at the window of her father's cottage. 

Mary's father, John Morison, was born in Ayrshire in 1724. 
He served in the 104th Regiment, of which he latterly became 
adjutant. Having distinguished himself in several important en- 
gagements, a small pension was at his death conferred upon his 
surviving daughter. Relative to one of his escapes, she used to 
relate the following anecdote. Perceiving a cannon-ball moving 
towards him, he stooped to the ground, and so escaped. Ignorant 
as to the cause of his so depressing himself, a superior officer called 
out, " Holloa, Morison, hold up ! " — a speech to which he promptly 
replied, " I'm not ashamed to stoop to a cannon-ball." 

On retiring from active service. Adjutant Morison settled at 
Halifax, in Yorkshire. There he married the daughter of Mr. 
William Walker, a small landowner, by whom he had two daughters, 
Mary and Elizabeth. On his wife's death, about the year 1784, he 
returned to Ayrshire, his native county, where he rented a cottage 
at Mauchline. Here he lived in seclusion, cherishing only a few 
intimacies. Mary, his elder daughter, who was celebrated by the 
Poet, had a singularly delicate complexion, and was otherwise 
engaging. By her surviving sister she was described as " one of 
the fairest creatures that ever the sun shone upon." 

MAK y MORI SON. 1 05 

Mary was short-lived. She was seized with a consumptive 
ailment, of which she died on the 29th June 1791, alx)ut the age 
of twenty-four. Her sister Elizn])cth, In^rn 2nd June 17G9, married, 
I'Jtli November 1793, John Carmiclmel, son of John Cannicluicl of 
Munlaskie,' who claimed descent from the house of Caniiichael, of 
which the Etirls of Hyndford were the ennobled chiefs. 

Born on the 29th of January 1772, John Carmichael selected 
the profession of a public teacher. After some time conducting a 
school at Muirkirk, in Ayi*shirc, he was preferred to the mastership 
of Bainsford Institution, near Falkirk. Adopting congregational 
views of Church government, he occasionally officiated in the pulpit 
with much acceptance. By his wife, Elizabeth Morison, he had five 
sons and three daughters. Margaret, the eldest daughter, Iwra Ist 
June 1796, died 16th February 1814; Mary, bom 26th November 
1809, died at Scutari, unmarried; Janet, Iwrn 3rd June 1812, sur- 
vives. Tliree of the sons — John, born 15th January 1799; James, 
born 26th October 1801 ; and Joseph Staiiiton, lM)rn 22nd Deceml)er 
1 806 — died young. 

Archibald Nisbet, the eldest son, was born 26th September 
1794. He studied at the High School of Edinburgh, of which, 
in 1811, he became dux. Elected one of the masters of the Edin- 
burgh Academy, he attained eminence as a chissical instnictor. 
In 1841 he published his well-known work on "Greek Verbs." 
He died on the 8th January 1847. His son John was a master 
in the High School, and his son James is a master iu tlie Academy 
of Edinburgh. 

William Walker, fourth son of John Carmichael and Elizabeth 
Morison, was Iwrn on the 20th October 1803. Having studied at 
the High School and the University of Edinburgh, he was in 1833 
elected Classical Master in the Madras College, St Andrews. In 

> Tliis gcutlcaiau perished m crositiug Utc Clyde ucar his house, on the 28th August 1774. 


1843 he was preferred as one of the masters in the High School of 
Edinburgh. He died on the 30th August 1848. 

Adjutant Morison married, secondly, Ann Tomlieson, a native of 
Ireland, by whom he had two sons, John and George ; also three 
daughters, Mary, Ann, and Jane. George entered the army and 
died young. John, the elder son, held a commission in the army, 
and became adjutant of his regiment. On retiring from active 
service, he resided some time in Ayrshire, and latterly emigrated 
to Canada. He married, with issue. The daughters, Ann and 
Jane also married, with issue. 

Adjutant Morison died at Mauchline, on the 16th April 1804, 
in the eightieth year of his age ; his second wife, Ann Tomlieson, 
died on the 6th September 1831, at the age of seventy-six. Both 
are commemorated on a family tombstone in Mauchline Churchyard, 
erected in 1825 by the Adjutant's grandson, Mr. Archibald Nisbet 
Carmichael, of the Edinburgh Academy. Mary Morison's name is 
also inscribed upon the tombstone. 


One of the Poet's " Six Belles of Mauchline," Christina Morton, was 
a native of that parish, with which for several generations her pro- 
genitors were connected. Possessing a most agreeable manner and 
a handsome person, she had also the advantage of inheriting a 
fortune of about £600. She married, on the 27th December 1788, 
Robert Paterson, draper and general merchant in Mauchline, with 
issue four sons, James, Hugh, Robert, and Alexander; also two 
daughters, Susanna and Margaret. 



Son of John Murdodi, (lcscril)e<l in the puriBb register as " in- 
dweller in Ayr," and his wife, Margaret Robertson, the subject of 
this notice was lx)rn in Ayr on the 25th March 1747.* With a view 
to being qualified as a public instructor, he was educated at the 
High School of Ayr, under the head master, David Tennant, and 
his staff of colleagues. In a letter to Dr. Currie, he relates how that 
ill the spring of 17G5 he met William Burnes, the Poet's father, by 
appointment at an inn, in order to his undertaking the scholastic 
duties at Alloway. William Burnes carefully examined his mode 
of handwriting, which he approved ; his other qualifications being 
certified by his teachers. Between William Burnes and himself it 
was therefore agreed that he should forthwith enter upon his duties, 
he being allowed in recompense a small payment in money, also 
board and lodging at the houses of five neighbouring farmers, by 
whom he was employed. 

In May 1765 Murdoch opened his school at Alloway, in a small 
room in the close vicinity of the Poet's birthplace. And though 
about a year afterwards William Burnes quitted Alloway for Mount 
Oliphant, two miles distant, his sons, Rol^ert and Gilbert, con- 
tinued their attendance. The arrangement subsisted for two and 
a half years ; and at the expiry of that period, the tenant at Mount 
Oliphant's eldest son was found to be a tolerable reader, to be able 
to write, and to have made some proficiency in English grammar. 
Before the Poet had completed his eightli year, he l)orrowed from 
his schoolmaster a life of Hannibal. Prior to his leaving the 
district in the autumn of 1767, Mr. Murdoch called at Mount 
Oliphant, to express his adieu, and to leave with William Burnes, 

' ^yr Parish Regiater. 


who had treated him with special kindness, a small token of his 
reo-ard. On his arrival, he was hospitably invited to remain for the 
evening, and he proceeded by way of entertainment to read from 
the tragedy of " Titus Andronicus," which he proposed to leave as 
a o-ift. The result was unsatisfactory as to his immediate intention, 
for he soon found the family in tears ; while his pupil, Robert, ener- 
getically protested that if a book depicting such a frightful story 
was left in the house, he would burn it at once. In consequence, 
Mr. Murdoch substituted as a gift a comedy, translated from tlie 
French, entitled " The School for Love." ^ 

Leaving Alio way towards the close of 1767, Mr. Murdoch 
taught at Dumfries and other places, but in 1772 he was recalled to 
his native district by being, after a competition with four other 
candidates, appointed teacher of the English school at Ayr. In 
the following year he received the Poet as a boarder. " He was 
now with me," he communicated to Dr. Currie, " day and night, in 
school, at all meals, and in all my walks." But the connexion 
thus happily formed was of brief continuance. Robert was speedily 
recalled to Mount Oliphant to assist in harvesting, and in the lapse of 
other two months was permanently withdrawn. During the interval, 
however, he, under Mr. Murdoch's teaching, made considerable pro- 
gress in acquiring a knowledge of the French language. 

After teaching successftdly at Ayr for some years, Mr. Murdoch 
became suspected of being unduly addicted to the social pleasures, 
and having on some public occasion spoken unadvisedly of Dr. 
Dalrymple, one of the parochial ministers, he brought upon himself 
so much hostile feeling, that his resignation of office became a matter 
of necessity. 

Mr. Murdoch proceeded to London, and there found employment 
as a teacher. By the Poet he was not forgotten. When, owing to 

1 Gilbei't Burns's Narrative. 


liis father's feeble henltli, and other domestic anxietie«, he had little 
leisure for correspondence, he enibnvced the opportunity, affordeil 
by a frank, of c()nnnuni(;utin<; with his early preceptor. His letter, 
which is strictly autobiographical, thus proceeds : — 

LocHLiB, 15//( January 1783. 
Dear Sir, — As I have nn opportunity of sending you a letter without 
putting you to that expense which any proiluction of mine would ill repay, I 
embrace it with pleasure, to tell you that I have not forgotten, nor will ever 
forget, the many obligations I lie under to your kindness and friendiihip. I do 
not doubt, sir, but you will wish to know what has been the result of all the pains 
of an indulgent father, and a masterly teacher; and I wish I could gratify your 
curiosity with such a recital as you would be pleased with ; but this is what I 
am afraid will not bo the case. I have indeed kept pretty clear of vicious 
habits, and in this respect I hope ray conduct will not disgrace the education I 
have gotten ; but, as a man of the world, I am most miserably deficient One 
would have thought that, bred as I have been under a father who has figured 
pretty well as un homme des affaires, I might have been what the world calls 
a pushing active fellow ; but to tell you the truth, sir, there is hardly anything 
more my reverse I seem to be one sent into the world to see and obeenre ; and 
I very easily comixjund with the knave who tricks me of my money, if there bo 
anything original about him which shows me human nature in a different light 
from anything I have seen before. In short, the joy of my heart is to " study 
men, their manners, and their ways ; " and for this darling subject I cheerfully 
sacrifice every other consideration. I am quite indolent about those great 
concenis that sot the bustling, busy sons of care agog ; and if I have to answer 
for the present hour, I am very easy with regard to an}'thing further. Even 
the last worst shift of the unfortunate and the wretched does not much terrify 
me. I know that even then, my talent for what country folks call "a sensible 
crack," when once it is sanctified by a hoary head, would procure me so much 
esteem, that even then — I would leani to Im« happy. However, I am under no 
apprehensions about that, for though indolent, yet so far as an extremely delicate 
constitution peimits, I am not lazy ; and in many things, es])ecially in tavern 
matters, I am a strict economist ; not, indeed, for the sake of money, but one 
of the principal parts in my comjx>sition is a kind of pride of stomach, and I 
scirn to fear the fiu-e of any man living ; above every tliini,', I ablu>r as hell, the 


idea of sneaking in a corner to avoid a dun — possibly some pitiful sordid wretch 
who in my heart I despise and detest, 'Tis this, and this alone, which endears 
economy to me. 

In these emphatic sentences the Poet communicates to Mr. 
Murdoch sentiments, which of a like nature he about the same 
time expressed in his letter to Thomas Orr, and which he afterwards 
embodied in verse in his " Epistle to Davie," and in one of the stanzas 
in the "Epistle to a Young Friend." In his letter to Mr. Murdoch 
he further proceeds : — 

In the matter of books, indeed, I am very profuse. My favourite authors 
are of the sentimental kind, such as Shenstone, particularly in his Elegies; 
Thomson ; Man of Feeling (a book I prize next to the Bible) ; Man of the World ; 
Sterne, es\iQc\^\\y Yiis, Sentimental Journey ; M'Pherson's Ossian, etc.: these are 
the glorious models after which I endeavour to form my conduct, and 'tis 
incongruous, 'tis absurd, to suppose that the man whose mind glows with senti- 
ments lightened up at their sacred flame — the man whose heart distends 
with benevolence to the whole human race — he " who can soar above this 
little scene of things " — can he descend to mind the paltry concerns about 
which the terrsefilial race fret, and fume, and vex themselves ! O how the glorious 
triumph swells my heart ! I forget that I am a poor insignificant devil, un- 
noticed and unknown, stalking up and down fairs and markets, when I happen 
to be in them reading a page or two of mankind, and " catching the manners 
living as they rise," whilst the men of business jostle me on every side, as an 
idle incumbrance in their way. But I daresay I have by this time tired your 
patience, so 1 shall conclude with begging you to give Mrs. Murdoch — not my 
compliments, for that is a mere commonplace story, but my warmest, kindest 
wishes for her welfare ; and accept of the same for yourself, from, dear sir, 
yours, etc. 

William Burnes died on the 13th of February 1784, and among 
those specially informed of the event by the Poet was Mr. Murdoch. 
But amidst the struggles of a literary life in London, the Ayrshire 
schoolmaster was indisposed to enter into correspondence with an 
old pupil, who was disposed chiefly to expatiate about thoughts and 


feelings, and who, from his own description of himself, was not 
likely to render any correspondence with him desirable. The 
condition was altered most materially when it became no longtr 
doubtful that the smart Alloway schoonx)y had developed into a 
man of genius, whose fame was spreading on every side. The 
Poet usually destroyed his letters, but the following, addressed to 
him by his schoolmaster, was preserved : — 

London, 28/A October 1787. 

My Dear Sni, — As my friend, Mr. Brown, is going from this place to your 
noighbourhood, I embrace the opportunity of telling you that I am yet alive, 
tolerably well, and always in expectation uf being better. By the much-valued 
letters before mo, I see that it was my duty to have given you this intelligence 
about three years and nine months ago ; and have nothing to allege as an 
excuse but that wo poor, busy, bustling bodies in London are so much taken 
up with the various pursuits in which we are here engaged, that we seldom 
think of any person, creature, place, or thing that is absent But this is not 
altogether the case with me, for I often think of you and Homie and liustell, 
and on utifathomed depth and loican brnnstane, all in the same minute, although 
you and they ar^ (as I suppose) at a considerable distance. I flatter myself, 
however, with the pleasing thought that you and I shall meet some time or 
other, either in Scotland or England. If ever you come hither, you will have 
the satisfaction of seeing your ix>ems relished by the Caledonians in London full 
as much as they can l)0 by those of Etlinburgh. We frequently repeat some of 
your verses in our Caledonian Society ; and you may believe I am not a little 
vain that I have had some share in cultivating such a genius. I was not 
absolutely certain that you were the author till a few days ago, when I made a 
visit to Mrs. Hill, Dr. M'Comb's eldest daughter, who lives in town, and who told 
me she was informed of it by a letter from her sister in Eilinburgh, with whom 
you had been in company when in that capital. 

Pray let me know if you have any intention of visiting this huge, overgrown 
metropolis. It would atfortl matter for a large poem. Here you would have an 
opportunity of indulging your vein in the study of mankind, perhaps to a 
greater degree than in any city upon the face of the globe ; for the inhabitants 
of London, as you know, are a collection of all nations, kindreds, and tongues, 
who make it, as it were, their centre of commerce. . . . 


Present my respectful compliments to Mrs. Burns, to my dear friend Gilbert, 
and all the rest of her amiable children. May the Father of the universe bless 
you all with those principles and dispositions that the best of parents took such 
uncommon pains to instil into your minds from your earliest infancy ! May you 
live as he did ! If you do, you can never be unhappy ! I feel myself grow 
serious all at once, and affected in a manner I cannot describe. I shall only 
add that it is one of the greatest pleasures I promise myself before I die, that of 
seeing the family of a man Avhose memory I revere more than that of any 
person I ever was acquainted with. — I am, my dear sir, yours sincerely, 
John Murdoch. 

The Poet had in turn mislaid Mr. Murdoch's letter, which, being 
attended with the loss of his address, prevented his recommending 
to the good offices of his early preceptor his brother William, who 
early in 1790 proceeded from Newcastle to London to seek employ- 
ment as a journeyman saddler. Having some months later 
recovered Mr. Murdoch's address, through the good offices of a 
common friend, he wrote to him in these terms : — 

Ellisland, \UU July 1790. 

My Dear Sir, — I received a letter from you a long time ago, but unfortun- 
ately, as it was in the time of my peregrinations and journeyings through 
Scotland, I mislaid or lost it, and, by consequence, your direction along with it. 
Luckily, my good star brought me acquainted with Mr. Kennedy, who, I under- 
stand, is an acquaintance of yours ; and by his means and mediation I hope to 
replace that link which my unfortunate negligence had so unluckily broke in 
the chain of our correspondence. I was the more vexed at the vile accident, as 
my brother William, a journeyman saddler, has been for some time in London, 
and wished above all things for your direction, that he might have paid his 
respects to his father's friend. 

After supplying Mr. Murdoch with the name of his brother's 
employer in the Strand, and assuring his correspondent that his 
brother " would joyfully wait on him on receiving a card intimating 
where he would be found," the Poet promises that his next letter 

JOHX MIKIHK //. 113 

would bo " tt long one," and would include " the eventful liiHt<M y >! 
a life, the early years of which owed so much to Ids kind tutorage-. " 
Mr. Murdoch received the Poet's letter on the 26th July, and 
having at the same time been informed that the young saddler wtis 
ill, he the next morning waited on his employer, who reported his 
death. Ho had succumbed to an attack of putrid fever. A few 
days later his remains wore dei)osited in St. Paul's Churchyard — 
Mr. Murdoch discharging the office of chief mourner. A century 
ago communication between the metropolis and Scotland waa 
costly, and those whose finances were circumscribed waited, unless 
in circumstances of urgency, until they could transmit their 
communications by a private hand. Mr. Murdoch so waited in 
conveying to the Poet the sad intelligence that his brother was no 
more. His letter conveying the tidings is dated from Hart Street, 
Bloomsbury Square, 14th September 1790. After detailing the 
circumstances connected with his brotlier's death, Mr. Murdoch 
informs the Poet that about a fortnight before the arrival of Ids 
letter, tlie deceased had called upon him. He proceeds : — 

We had only one interview, ami that was highly entertaining to mc in 
several respects. He mentioned some instruction I liad given him when very 
young, to which, he said, he owed, in a great measure, the philanthropy he 
]>osscssed. He also took notice of my exhorting you all, when I wrote, about 
eight years ago, to the man who, of all mankind that I ever knew, stood highest 
in my esteem, "not to let go your integrity." You may easily conceive that 
such conversation was both ploasing and encouraging to me ; I anticipated a 
deal of rational happiness from future conversations. Vain are our expcctatioif^ 
and hopes. They are so almost always — perhaps (nay, certainly) for our good. 
Were it not for disapjwintcd hopes, we could hardly spend a thought on 
another state of existence, or 1x5 in any degree reconciled to the quitting of this. 
I know of no one source of consolation to those who have lost young relatives 
equal to that of their being of a good disposition and of a promising character. 
. . . Your letter to Dr. Moore I delivered at his house, and shall most likely 
know your opinion of Ziiuco the first time I meet with him. I wish and 


hope for a long letter. Be particular about your mother's health, I hope she 
is too much a Christian to be afflicted above measure, or to sorrow as those who 
have no hope. One of the most pleasing hopes I have is to visit you all ; but 
I am commonly disappointed in what I most ardently wish for. — I am, dear 
sir, yours sincerely, John Murdoch. 

In transmitting to Mr. Cromek a copy of the Poet's letter to 
him of the 16th July 1790, Mr. Murdoch, in a letter dated Hart 
Street, Bloomsbury, 28th December 1807, uses these words : — 

When I recollect the pleasure — and I hope benefit — I received from the 
conversation of William Burns, especially when on the Lord's day we walked 
together for about two miles to the house of prayer, there publicly to adore and 
praise the Giver of all good, I entertain an ardent hope that together we shall 
" renew the glorious theme in distant worlds " with powers more adequate to 
the mighty subject — the exuberant beneficence of the Great Creator. 

After referring to the brief revival of his intercourse in London 
with young William Burns, Mr. Murdoch proceeds : — 

Let not parents and teachers imagine that it is needless to talk seriously to 
children. They are sooner fit to be reasoned with than is generally thought. 
Strong and indelible impressions are to be made before the mind be agitated and 
ruffled by the numerous train of distracting cares and unruly passions, whereby 
it is frequently rendered almost unsusceptible of the principles and j)recepts of 
rational religion and sound morality.^ 

The history of Mr. Murdoch's career in London is not certainly 
known. By the Poet he was addressed as " Teacher of French." 
In his letter to the Poet of the 14th September 1790, he refers to 
*' Mr. Stevenson's accidentally calling at my shop to buy something." 
After a time he resumed tuition, giving instructions privately in 
English and French. While resident in London the celebrated 
Talleyrand sought his instruction in the English tongue. And it is 

^ The letter of Mr. Murdoch from which these excerpts are made is printed in the Scottish 
Journal, December 11, 1847. 


of especial interest to learn that one of the pupils of his old age was 
Mrs. Everett, the Poet's grand - daughter.' Possessed of great 
accuracy as a philologist, Mr. JMurdocli assisted John Walker, the 
cele])ratcd lexicogra|»licr, in preparing for the press, in 1802, the 
third edition of his dictionary ; and it is understood that from his 
pen proceeded the " Rules to be observed by the natives of Scotland 
for attaining a just pronunciation of English," included in the 
dissertations. Mr. Murdoch published in 1783 a duodecimo volume 
entitled Radical Vocabulary of the French Language: and in 
1788 a work in octavo, bearing the title. Pronunciation and Ortho- 
graphy of the French Language, lie issn.d. In ISll. a Dictionary 
of Distinctions y in three Alphabets. 

Latterly Mr. Murdoch suffered from feeble health, and, like many 
other men of letters, natives of Scotland, who have settled in 
London, was in danger of perishing from absolute want. By some 
admirers of the Poet a small sum was raised on his behalf. He died 
at London on the 20th April 1824, at the age of seventy -seven. 
To his industry and pious care we are indebted for the Manual of 
Religious Belief by the Poet's father. By Gilbert Bums we are 
informed that his dispositions were genial and Ixjneficent. 


Robert Muir was, according to Gilbert Burns, "one of those 
friends which Robert's poetry had procured him, who was dear to 
his heart." A wine merchant in Fore Street, Kilmarnock, and 
proprietor of Loanfoot, a small estate in the locality, he was 
descended from a family who by industry had acquired considerable 

^ Private letter from Mr. Gilbert Bums of Dublin to Mr. JtmM Gibaon, merchant in LiverpooL 


opulence. His grandfatlier, David Muir, weaver in the village of 
Crookedholm, was on the 1st October 1726 served heir to "the 
Barn," a tenement situated in Holmhead of Kilmarnock. On the 
22nd August 1711 he married, as his first wife, Agnes, daughter of 
Adam Dickie, by whom he had a son, William. 

Born on the 27th February 1714, William Muir succeeded, on 
his father's death prior to 1761, to the Kilmarnock property.^ He 
died in 1771, at the age of fifty-seven. On the 22nd December 
1746 he married, as his second wife, Janet, daughter of William 
Craig of Holms, in the parish of Kilmaurs,^ and of the union were 
born seven children, of whom survived infancy a son, Robert, and a 
daughter, Agnes. 

Robert Muir was born at Kilmarnock on the 8tli August 1758.^ 
He established himself in the wine trade at Kilmarnock about his 
twenty-fourth year, and had therefore been about four years in 
business when he in 1786 formed the Poet's acquaintance. On the 
20th of March 1786 we find the Poet addressing him in a brief note 
from Mossgiel, in which he indicates his disappointment that he had 
"not the pleasure of seeing him as he returned through Mauchline." 
Enclosing to him a copy of his lines on " Scotch Drink," he 
expresses the hope of being able to pay him a visit "some time 
before we hear the gowk," — that is, before the cuckoo made its 
appearance, about the middle of April. As the Poet concludes the 
letter, " Your humble servant," it is all but certain that the friend- 
ship had just begun. It must have made rapid progress, for Mr. 
Muir appears as a subscriber for six dozen copies of the Kilmarnock 
edition, immediately on the proposals for printing being issued. 
Writing to Mr. Muir from Mossgiel an undated letter, ascribed to 

' To the Rev. George Mure Smith, one of the ^ Kilmarnock Parish Register, 

ministers of Stirling, we are indebted for these 3 /^j(/_ 



the 8th September 1786, the Poet begins thus: "My friend and 
brother, warm recollections of an aWnt friend presses so hnrd upon 
my heart, that I sciul him the prefixed bagatelle, pleased with the 
thought that it will greet the man of my l)O80m, and be a kind of 
distant language of friendship." He adds that the poem " was 
nearly an extemporaneous production, on a wager with Mr. 
IIamilt(>n that he would not produce a poem on the subject in a 
given time." Promising to visit his correspondent "in the latter 
part of next week," he concludes, "My dear sir, your most 

In a letter to Mr. Muir, dated Mossgiel, 18th November, the 
Poet informs him of his intention of proceeding to Edinburgh " on 
Monday or Tuesday come se'ennight," but promises to make him a 
visit in the interval. Beginning his letter, " My Dear Sir," he 
concludes, " I am ever, your much indebted." From Edinburgh, on 
the 15th of December, the Poet addressed him in a communication 
which commences thus : — 

My Dear Sir, — I delayed writing yo>i till I was able to give you some 
rational account of myself and my afliiire. I am got under the patronage of the 
Duchess of Gordon, Countess-Dowager of Glencaim, Sir John WTiitefoord, the 
Dean of Faculty, Professors Blair, Stewart, Greenfield, and several others of the 
noblesse and literati. I believe I shall begin at Mr. Creech's as my publisher. 
I am still undetermined as to the future ; and, as usual, never think of it. 
I have now neither house nor home that I can call my own, and live on the 
world at large. I am just a poor wayfaring pilgrim on the road to Pamaanu, 
a thoughtless wanderer and sojourner in a strange land. 

On the 20th December the Poet acknowledged a letter from his 
friend offering to subscribe for sixty copies of his Edinburgh edition, 
an extent of liberality which he declines. He encloses to him " a 
parcel of subscription bills," and a hint as to giving some account of 
his life, ho proposes to act upon in a future letter. When the 


Edinburgh edition was published, Mr. Muir's name appeared in the 
list as a subscriber for forty copies. 

In the Journal of his Border tour, the Poet, writing on the 12th 
May 1787, describes one whom he had in Eoxburghshire become 
acquainted with as " a most gentlemanly, clever, handsome fellow, 
... his mind and manners astonishingly like \}iis\ dear old friend, 
Robert Muir in Kilmarnock." From Stirling, on the 26th August, 
he communicated to Mr. Muir that he had commenced a tour to the 
Highlands. He proceeds : — 

This morning I knelt at the tomb of Sir Jolm the Graham, the gallant friend 
of the immortal Wallace [at Falkirk], and two hours ago I said a fervent prayer 
for old Caledonia over the hole in a blue whinstone where Robert de Bruce 
fixed his royal standard on the banks of Bannockburn ; and just now from 
Stirling Castle, I have seen by the setting sun the glorious prospects of the 
windings of Forth through the rich carse of Stirling, and skirting the equally 
rich carse of Falkirk. 

About the commencement of the year 1788 Mr. Muir had a 
private meeting with the Poet, and it was probably on this occasion 
that he made known to his friend that he was labouring under a 
pulmonary ailment, and that he entertained grave misgivings as to 
his recovery. Writing to him on the 7th March, the Poet, in order 
not to unduly disquiet him in relation to his health, commences by 
referring to his own prospects in life. He then proceeds : — 

I shall not stay in Edinburgh above a week. I set out on Monday, and 
would have come by Kilmarnock, but there are several small sums owing me 
for my first edition about Galston and New mills, and I shall set off so early as 
to dispatch my business, and reach Glasgow by night. "When I return I shall 
devote a forenoon or two to make some kind of acknowledgment for all the 
kindness I owe your friendship. Now that I hope to settle with some credit 
and comfort at home, there was not any friendship or friendly correspondence 
that promised me more pleasure than yours ; I hope I will not be disappointed. 
I trust the spring will renew your shattered frame, and make your friends 

KOBLKi iMUlR. 119 

]iappy. You and I havo often agreed tluit life is no great blessing on the whole. 
The dose of life, indeed, to a reasoning eye, 

Dark as was chaos, ere tho infant liun 
Wiia roU'd together, or hud trvM his licams 
Athwart tho gloom profoun<l. 

But an Iionost man has nothing to fear. If wo lie down in tlie grave, the whole 
man a piece of broke machinery, to moulder with the clods of the valley, be it 
80 ; at least thoi-o is an end of jiain, care, woes, and wants : if that part of u« 
callod Mind does survive tho apparent destruction of the man — away with the 
old-wife prejudices and tales ! Every age and every nation has had a difTereni 
set of stories ; and as tho many are always weak, of consequence they have often, 
]>crhaps always, been deceived. A man conscious of having acted an honest 
IKirt among his fellow-creatures — even granting that he may have been the 
s]K)rt at times of [mssions and instincts — ho goes to a great Unknown Being, 
who could havo no other end in giving him existence but to make him happy, 
who gave him those passions and instincts, and well knows their force. TliesOf 
my worthy friend, are my ideas, and I know they are not far different from 
yours. It becomes a man of sense to think for himself; particularly in a case 
where all men arc equally interested, and where, indeed, all men are equally in 
the dark Adieu, my dear sir ! God send us a cheerful meeting. 

Not improbably the friciuls htid a sad last meeting. Mr. Muir 
died on the 22iid of April. In his letter to Mrs. Dunlop of the 13th 
December 1789, the Poet accompanies his musings on a future 
state by alluding to his departed friend of Kilmarnock in these 
words : — 

There should I meet the friend, tho disinterested friend of my early life— 
the man who rejoiced to sec me, because he loved me and could serve me— Muir ! 
Thy weaknesses were tho aberrations of human nature, but thy heart glowed 
with everything generous, manly, and noble ; and if ever emanation from the 
All-good Being animated a human form, it was thine. 

Mr. Muir was in prosperous circumstances, and carefully applied 
his savings in liquidating burdens which lay upon his inheritance of 


Loanfoot. He succeeded in wholly redeeming the possession, since 
six days before his death the discharge of the last bond upon it was 
entered in the Register of Deeds. He died unmarried, and in the 
estate of Loanfoot was succeded by his sister Agnes. This gentle- 
woman was born at Kilmarnock on the 28th November 1754 ; she 
married William Smith, merchant, Kilmarnock. 


William Muir, tenant of the Mill of Fail, was, when the Poet 
occupied the farm of Mossgiel, one of his principal associates. His 
farm homestead was situated about two hundred yards to the east 
of Tarbolton village, on the road to Mossgiel. A tradition lingers 
that the tenant of Fail Mill was the original Willie of the song, 
" Willie brew'd a peck o' maut," and that another of the three 
original heroes of the piece was Allan Guthrie, farmer at Tarshaw 
in the same locality. As the Poet, however, assigns a different 
origin to the song, his testimony is conclusive on the point, yet it 
is not improbable that the composition may have been drafted at 
Mossgiel, and afterw^ards recast. In this manner Burns proceeded 
frequently ; and it is to be remarked that the brewing of " a peck o' 
maut" would be perfectly appropriate in connexion with the tenant 
of Fail Mill, and is devoid of meaning in relation to the Edinburgh 

A William Muir, son of Robert Muir, was baptized at Mauchline 
on the 14th of February 1745,^ and it is believed that this child 
became the future miller. William Muir is a subscriber to the 

^ ^laucliline Parish Register. 


Poet's Edinburgli edition, and in liis Iiouhc, under his wifc'« <'arc, 
Jean Armour sought shelter, wlicn expelled by her father iii the 
winter of 1787-88, on account of her continued attachment to the 
Poet. His homestead is the ** Willi»''s mill " in tlio |t«M'ni of "Death 
and Doctor Hornbook." 

William Muir died in 1793, when the Poet in his Commonplace 
Book commemorated him in the following epitaph : — 

An honest man lies hero at rost, 
As e'er God with His imago blent ; 
Tlic fricnil of man, the friend of tnith, 
The frit lul of nge, and guide of youth : 
Few hearts like hi«, with virtue warmcil. 
Few heads with knowledge so informrd : 
If there's another world, he lives in bliss : 
If there is none, he made the l>ost of this. 

Muir sctllecl his aifairs negligently, ami it \va.s liic I'uol.s 
privilege to make interest on behalf of his widow with Mr. Gavin 
Hamilton and others, so as to secure to her a proper provision. 


The family of Nasmyth has been traced to the thirteenth century. 
One of its representatives. Sir Michael Nasmyth, Chamberlain of the 
Archbishop of St. Andrews, acquired in 1544 the lands of Posse and 
Glcnarth by marrying the heiress Elizabeth Baird, whose grand- 
father, Sir Gilbert Baird, fell on the field of Flodden. 

Descended from a branch of the family, who appear as burgesses 
and guild - brethren of Edinburgh in the seventeenth century, 
Alexander Nasmyth was bom in that city on the 7th September 

VOL. H. Q 


1758. His parents were Michael Nasmytli and Lilias Anderson, 
who became spouses when the bridegroom was a working joiner ; he 
subsequently became an architect and house-builder. 

Alexander Nasmyth evinced in childhood a faculty for drawing 
and sketching, and was consequently sent by his father to the 
academy of art established in the city under the celebrated 
Alexander Runciman. At the age of seventeen he entered the 
London studio of Allan Ramsay, painter to the King, and in this 
connexion considerably advanced his artistic studies. He after- 
wards visited Italy, where he made sketches of interesting scenery, 
while at Rome he familiarized himself with art in its higher 

Returning to his native city, Alexander Nasmyth readily 
procured professional employment. He painted several important 
family groups, of which specimens may be seen at Minto House, 
also in the Earl of Rosebery's residence at Dalmeny. 

When Mr. Creech had agreed to produce the first Edinburgh 
edition of Burns's poems, he thought of illustrating the volume 
with a portrait of the Bard executed by Nasmyth ; he therefore 
invited the artist to meet the Poet at his house, and arranged for 
the necessary sittings. 

Mr. Nasmyth's painting- room was in Wardrop's Court, near the 
Poet's lodgings in the High Street, and it therefore suited the Bard 
to visit the artist frequently, not for limning purposes only, but 
also for conversation. When Mr. Nasmyth was satisfied that he 
had caught the Poet's features, he was content, and left the portrait 
otherwise unfinished. It was now placed by Mr. Creech in the 
hands of Mr. John Beugo, the accomplished engraver, to be trans- 
ferred to copper in a style known as stipple. With a view to 
secure an exact likeness, Mr. Beugo had from the Poet several 
sittings, which he carefully utilized. From that cause, or some 


other unexplained reason, Mr. Naamyth expressed himself as dis- 
satisfied witli Beugo's work, while a mezzotint of his portrait by 
Walker he commended warmly. On being shown by Walker an 
iinproHsion of his mezzotint, he wrote : '* I cannot give you a more 
t'onvinciiig proof of my entire sati.sfaetion with your print, than to 
tell you that your engraving mutually reminds me more distinctly 
of Burns tliaii does my own picture." Mr. Nasmyth's original 
painting was given to the Poet, and was much valued by his 
widow. Afterwards acquired by Colonel William Nicol Bums, the 
poet's son, it was berjucathod by him to the Scottish National 
(jlaliery, where it hangs now. Of two duplicates of it, made by 
Mr. Nasmyth, one is preserved in the National Portrait Gallery, 
London, the other at Auchendrane House, Ayrshire. 

During his residence in E<linburgh, Burns warmly cherished Mr. 
Nasmyth's society; he in the spring of 1787 had frequent walks 
with him in the suburbs of the city. The friends <x;c4isionally 
walked to Arthur's Seat, together enjoying the sunrise on that 
majestic summit. At other times their morning walks extended to 
the Braid Hills, also to the Pentlands. On one occasion they 
on the Pentland moors proceeded eastward by Penicuik to Roslin, 
where, at a small inn, they tarried for breakfast. Pleased with the 
attention of the hostess, Mrs. David Wilson, the Poet inscribed on 
tlie back of a wooden dish these lines complimentary of her : — 

My blessings on ye, honest wife ! 

I ne'er was here before ; 
Ye've wealth o' gear for 8jxk)u and knife — 

Heart could not wish for more : 
Heav'n keep you clear o' sturt and strife, 

Till far ayont fourscore ; 
And while I Uxldle on thro' life, 

I'll ne'er gae by your door. 


While prosecuting their journey, terminating at Eoslin, the 
painter and Poet were startled by loud and desperate exclamations 
proceeding from a cottage. They were uttered by a lunatic, and 
the Poet, when he became aware of the fact, was deeply moved. ^ Mr. 
Nasmyth would in thrilling terms describe the occurrence, depicting 
the deep effect produced by it on the Poet's sensitive nature. In a 
letter to Mr. Beugo, written from Ellisland on the 9th September 
1788, the Poet concludes thus : " If you see Mr. Nasmyth, remember 
me to him most respectfully, as he both loves and deserves respect ; 
though, if he would pay less respect to the mere carcase of greatness, 
I should think him much nearer perfection." 

In 1827, forty years after the Poet's death, Mr. Nasmyth 
prepared for Mr. J. G. Lockhart's memoir a portrait of the Poet, 
which the biographer describes thus : — 

The Poet [is] at full length, as he appeared in Edinburgh in the first hey- 
day of his reputation ; dressed in tight jockey boots, and very tight buckskin 
breeches, according to the fashion of the day, and (Jacobite as he was) in what 
was considered as the Fox livery, viz. a blue coat and buff waistcoat, with 
broad blue stripes. The surviving friends of Burns, who have seen this picture, 
are unanimous in pronouncing it to furnish a very lively representation of the 
Bard as he first attracted public notice on the streets of Edinburgh. 

Like the Poet, Mr. Nasmyth held views much in unison with 
those of the French patriots, and consequently gave some offence to 
the members of that class whose patronage was essential to his 

1 In his "Autobiography," Mr. James Na- ling decay of man's efforts to perpetuate his 

smyth remarks that, on occasion of the Roslin work, even when founded upon a rock, as 

visit, his father made a sketch of the Poet Roslin Castle is, seemed greatly to affect him. 

under the ruins of Roslin Castle. He writes : My father was so much impressed with the 

" After an eight miles' walk they reached the scene that, while Burns was standing under 

castle at Roslin. Burns went down under the the arch, he took his pencil and a scrap of 

gi-eat Norman arch, where he stood rapt in paper, and made a hasty sketch of the subject, 

speechless admiration of the scene. The This sketch was highly treasured by my father, 

thought of the eternal renewal of youth and in remembrance of what must have been one of 

freshness of nature, contrasted with the cnimb- the most memorable days of his life," 


success as a portrait-painter. Realizing his position, he dctcmiineil 
henceforth (we quote his words), "to paint the beautiful face of 
Nature." So resolving in 1 793, he afterwards attained great eminence 
as a landscape painter. 

But Mr. Nusmyth devoted his attention 1(j aii in other branches. 
As a scene-painter he became celebrated. In his " Autobiography," 
David Roberts refers enthusiastically to Nasmyth's stock scenery of 
the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, con.sisting of landscajHjs, palaces, castles, 
and forest scenery. In 1820 he produced for the Theatre Royal of 
Edinburgh the scenery of " The Heart of Midlothian," one of his most 
siicrossful efforts in stage painting. Mr. Nasmyth's mode of painting 
luiH, in the Art ,loni"i\nl} been described by Mr. Alexander Fraser. 

Ho drtnv in, \\iut> Mr. I'luser, the 8ul»j«-i:l-iii;ilifi (nn-luiiv wiiii blackleatl 
pencil, and then put in the niiisscs of shadow with burnt sienna. . . . He 
mixed up tints for his skies, and used largely a colour he called peach-stone 
grey, made from calcined peach stones. 

With respect to this latter remark, the writer has received a com- 
munication from Mr. Nasmyth's son, the inventor of the steam 
hammer, who writes thus : — 

It was liis friend the Rev. Jolin Thomson of l>uddingston wljo proposed 
the new pigment of peach-stone grey for art use. My father was amused with 
Thomson's idea of its value, and sometimes quoted it as an instance of the 
absurd hunting after new colours, supposed to be such — to overcome difficulties 
that only existed in the minds of searchers after such fallacious nostrums. I 
have named this s^x^cially, proceeds Mr. James Nasmyth, as it was so contrary 
to all my father's ideas of real art, which in all cases manifests its power 
independent of mere rarity of material. The idea of getting up a grey from the 
ashes of peach sU)nc8 appeared to my father the culmination of absurdity, and 
hence his quoting it at the risk of displeasing Thomson, whom he valaed 
exceedingly, both as a man and a truly great artist, ^fy father had quite a 

» AH JoHmnf, July 1882, pp. 208, 20J>. 


contempt for such huntings after special art materials as the means of solving 
art difficulties ; he named those matcrialisis who ran after such art " will o' the 

For many years Mr. Nasmyth was consulted in the laying out 
and adornment of parks and pleasure-grounds, and his artistic skill 
was rendered available in improving the street architecture of Edin- 
])urgh. From his design was built the classic temple of Hygeia at 
St. Bernard's Well ; the original design of the Dean Bridge was also 
prepared by him. With a strong turn for mechanics, he employed 
his hours of leisure in this department, and became inventor of the 
bow and string bridge employed in the roofing of broad spaces. To 
Sir James Hall he rendered important assistance in preparing his 
work On the Origin of Gothic Architecture. 

For a time he acted as an art-instructor, his classes being attended 
by many persons who became eminent. When the Society of 
Artists was united with the Royal Scottish Academy, he was chosen 
an honorary member of the latter, and in its welfare evinced a deep 
concern. At the dinner given by the Academicians and others to 
Sir Henry Raeburn in 1822, on the occasion of his being knighted, 
he was invited to preside. Even in advanced age his devotion 
to art continued unabated. His last work, " Going Home," represent- 
ing an aged labourer crossing a rustic bridge on his way towards 
a lonely cottage, was executed within a few weeks of his death. 
He died on the 10th April 1840, at the age of eighty-two. 

Mr. Nasmyth married, in January 1786, Barbara, sister of Sir 
James Foulis, Bart., of Woodhall, Colinton,^ by whom he had three 
sons and two daughters. 

Patrick, the eldest son, was born on the 7th January 1787.^ 
Possessing an intuitive love of art, he was led, in gratifying it, to 
abandon all other studies. In a sketching excursion he injured his 

^ Coliiiton Tarish Eegistcr. 2 Edinbui-gh Taiish Register. 


right luind, and thercufter painted with his left. Sleeping in a 
dump bed, he, in his .seventeenth year, became afflicted with total 
deafness. Yet his marvellous artistic ardour suffered no diminution. 
He visited the mountains, and tliere, umler the shelter of a travelling 
hut, waited storms, that he might depict them on his canviis. At 
the age of twenty he settled in London, where his simple and 
effective pictures at once attracted attention. He was styled th<* 
English nob])ema, having attached himself to his school. From 
London he made frequent journeys to picturesque scenes, which, 
graphically 8ket<;hing, he reproduced in paintings elaborately 
finished. In a notice of him, Mr. <!. W. Novice writes: — 

III (lelincuting the splendid variotics of tlio sky, the suft azure of the extreme 
di.staiico bounded by an undulating horizon, the intervening ojien country, the 
luating and barks of trees, and diversified forcgniunds, where dock-leaves 
luxuriantly grow, ho was tndy unrivalled.' 

After a period of feeble health, lie died al Lambeth on the 18th 
August 1831. His works continue to be greatly prized. 

James, youngest child of Alexander Nasmyth, is the distin- 
guished inventor of the steam hammer and other mechanical appli- 
ances. Born at Edinburgh on the 19th August 1808, he cherished 
from early youth a love of mechanism, and while yet a boy at 
school produced small steam-engines and other mo<lels, which found 
ready purchasers. In 1829 he proceeded to London, and there 
offered his services to JVlr. Henry Maudsley, the celebrated engineer, 
who employed him as assistant in his private workshop. In 1831 
he returned to Edinburgh, where he continued his engineering 
labours. He commenced business in Manchester in 1834, and after- 
wards, at Patricroft in that vicinity, constructed the important 
engineering works known as the Bridgewater Foundry. There the 

* Ligl^i in Art, by George William Novice, Edinb. 1874, 12mo, p. 811. 


various meclianical inventions which bear his name were originally 
applied. From the firm of Nasmyth, Gaskell, & Co., of which he 
was the founder, he in 1857 retired with an ample fortune. He 
now resides on his fine estate at Penshurst, in the county of Kent. 
Ardently devoted to scientific pursuits, he has, by means of powerful 
telescopes, made extensive investigations into the structure and 
surface of the sun and moon. He is author of a work entitled The 
Moon, considered as a Plarief, a World, and a Satellite. 

Anne, one of the daughters of Alexander Nasmyth, became widely 
known as a painter; her landscapes are of a high commercial 


The only child of his parents, William Nicol was born in 1744 at 
Dumbretton, in the parish of Annan. His father, a poor but 
respectable tradesman, died early, leaving his widow and child 
without provision. From an itinerant teacher, named John Orr, 
young Nicol obtained the rudiments of learning. Orr was possessed 
of the scholastic faculty, but could not rest long in one place, a 
peculiarity which was explained by the belief that he had laid a 
ghost. In a popular rhyme an account of his interview with the 
spectre has been preserved. Having from the reputed exorciser 
obtained some acquaintance with Latin, Nicol conceived himself 
qualified to personally exercise the function of a teacher, and 
accordingly, when a mere lad, opened a school in his mother's house. 
In this he was encouraged by his mother, who, intending to train 
him for the ministry, believed that by instructing others he would 


be innrod to personal culture. After a time he attended classes in 
the gminmar scliool of Annan, of which Dr. Roliert Henrj^ the 
future historian, was then rector ; and, having acquired a little money 
througli private tuition, he wns enabled to enter as a student the 
I University of Edinburgh. At the close of the Arts curriculum he 
{'omnicmcd the study of theology, when, availing himself of the 
privilege then open to theological students, of offering comments on 
the trial dis{'oui*ses of their class-fellows, he first evidenced that 
tone of acerbity which became the characteristic of his life. After a 
time he quitted the Divinity Hall, and adopted the study of 
medicine, which, after a brief trial, was also abandoned. 

Devoted to classical studies, Mr. Nicol supported himself, while 
in attendance at college, by a tutorial practice. And when, early in 
1774, the town council of Edinburgh resolved to fill, by means of 
a public competition, a vacant classical mastership in the High 
Scliool, he entered as a candidate, and was, on the 2nd of February, 
declared to be the successful competitor. As a teacher Mr. Nicol 
became popular. Thoroughly master of his work, he contrived to 
interest his pupils in their studies ; nor were violent ebullitions of 
temper, to which he was prone, sufficient to mar his acceptableness. 
At this early period he loved to recall the memory of his youth and 
early struggles, and to exercise toward young persons of ability and 
jironiise the hand of a generous encouragement. Familiar with the 
older ballads, lie was also a reader of modern poetry. When Burns 
came to Edinburgh, he speedily sought his acquaintance. Struck 
by his earnest, forcible manner, and the vehemence with which he 
denounced insincerity and scourged dissimulation, the Poet gave 
him a hearty friendship. During his Border tour he addressed Mr. 
Nicol from Carlisle, on the 1st of June 1787, in a letter written in 
the l)road vernacular. Saluting his correspondent as '* Kind, honest 
hearted Willie," he descri1>«'< 1>is jouriioying in tlioQi. wur.lg; — 
VOL. II. i; 


I hae dander'd owre a' the kintra frae Dunbar to Selcraig, and hae for- 
gather'd wi' mony a guid fallow, and monie a weelfar'd hizzie. I met wi' twa 
dink quines in particular, ane o' them a sonsie, fine, fodgel lass, baith braw 
and bonnie \ the tither was a clean-shankit, straught, tight, weel-far'd winch, as 
blithe's a lintwhite on a flowrie thorn, and as sweet and modest's a new-blawn 
plumrose in a hazel shaw. They were baith bred to mainers by the beuk, and 
onie ane o' them had as muckle smeddum and rumblegumption as the half o' 
some presbytries that you and I baith ken. They play'd mc sic a deevil o' a 
shavie that I daur say, if my harigals were turned out, ye wad see twa nicks i' 
the heart o' me like the mark o' a kail-whittle in a castock,^ 

The Poet concludes by desiring to be remembered to Mrs. Nicol, to 
Mr. and Mrs. Cruikshank, and "the honest guidman o' Jock's 
Lodge," supposed to be Louis Cauvin, the French teacher. 

On his returning to Mauchline in the summer of 1787, Burns 
communicated with Mr. Nicol with his former warmth. In a letter 
which is dated the 18th June, he commences " My Dear Friend," and 
in relation to his late Edinburgh visit and his present experiences, 
uses these words : — 

I never, my friend, thought mankind very capable of anything generous ; 
but the stateliness of the patricians in Edinburgh, and the servility of my 
plebeian brethren (who perhaps formerly eyed me askance) since I returned 
home, have nearly put me out of conceit altogether with my species. I have 
bought a pocket Milton, which 1 carry perpetually about with me, in order to 
study the sentiments — the dauntless magnanimity, the intrepid, unyielding 
independence, the desperate daring, and noble defiance of hardship, in that 
great personage, Satan. 

' A translation may be convenient : "I have and modest as a new-blown primrose in a hazel 

sauntered over the whole country from Dunbar wood. They had both acquired manners from 

to Selkirk, and have met with many a good the book, and any one of them had as much 

fellow, and many a well-favoured maiden. I met smartness and sense as the half of some pres- 

two handsome girls, in particular, one of them byteries that you and I know of. They played 

a fine, plump, comfortable-looking lass, well- me so mischievous a prank, that if my viscera 

dressed and pretty ; the other a well-limbed, were turned out, you would see two nicks 

straight, tight, well-favoured woman, as blithe in the heart of me, like the mark of a knife 

as a linnet on a flowering thorn, and as sweet in a cabbage-stalk." 

WILL/ AM NICOL. 1 n 1 

III conclusion iIk Poet points to the frailty ami uncertainty of 
friendship, ml(iiii«!; :— 

But from you, my over dear sir, I look with confidence for tho apostolic love 
tlmt shall wait on mo *' through good report and Ijad report," — tho love which 
Solomon emphatically says " is strong as death." 

Returning to Edinburgh on the 7th of August, the Poet found 
that his former quarters were occupied, his friend Richmond having 
obtained another fellow-lodger. Consulting Mr. Nicol as to suitable 
apnitnients, he was invited to sojourn at his house, and there he 
became nwurc that his friend was the victim of a strong irritability. 
From Mr. Nicol's house he, on the 23rd August, communicated with 
Mr. Ainslie, then at Berrywell, in which he refers to his sitting in 
the same room with his host and some of his pupils. At the close 
of the High School session, it had been arranged that the friends 
should set out together on an excursion to the Highlands, and 
accordingly, on Saturday the 25th August, they left Edinburgh in a 
post - chaise. In his Diary of that date the Poet writes : ** I 
leave Edinburgh for a northern tour, in company with my good 
friend Mr. Nicol, whose originality of humour promises me much 
entertainment." Next day, in a letter to Mr. Robert Muir at Kil- 
marnock, he remarks of his travelling companion that he was " a 
truly original, but very worthy man." Aware of his companion's 
weakness, the Poet had resolved to exercise towards him a generous 
forbearance. Introduced by Henry Mackenzie to Mrs. Rose at 
Kilravock, Bums was inclined to avail himself of an invitation to 
prolong his visit, but, in deference to Mr. Nicol's impatience, he 
hastened on his journey. A day or two later, at Fochabers, Mr. 
Nicol permitted his untoward temper to betray him into rudeness. 
Leaving Mr. Nicol at the inn, the Poet had proceeded to Gordon 
Castle to wait upon the Duchess of Gordon, to whom he had been 


introduced at Edinburgh. When the Poet arrived the family were 
about to sit down to dinner, and he was, as matter of course, invited 
to take his place. Shortly after dinner he rose to depart, assigning 
as a reason that he had left his fellow-traveller at the inn. With 
much politeness the Duke at once offered to send a servant to 
conduct him to the castle, and when the Poet insisted on performing 
the office himself, a gentleman who was an intimate acquaintance of 
the Duke undertook to accompany him. When the Poet and the 
Duke's friend arrived at the inn, they found Mr. Nicol foaming with 
resentment. In the belief that he had been neglected, he had 
ordered the horses to be put to the carriage, and as no explanation 
or entreaty would induce him to change his purpose, the Poet was 
obliged to forego for the second time the happiness of passing a 
period of days in elevated and congenial society. 

A tour of twenty-two days concluded, the travellers returned to 
Edinburgh on the 16th of September. Early in the following 
month the Poet accompanied his young friend. Dr. Adair, to the 
counties of Clackmannan and Stirling. On Monday the 15th of 
October he addressed from Ochtertyre complimentary letters both 
to Mr. Nicol and his High School colleague, Mr. William Cruik- 
sliank, and it is to be remarked that, in his communication to the 
former, he desires that his compliments may be conveyed to Mr. and 
]\Irs. Cruikshank, as if unwilling that his jealous and irate friend 
should suppose that he was on terms of friendly correspondence with 
any other master of the school. 

When Burns returned to Edinburgh from Clackmannanshire, he 
resided with Mr. Cruikshank. Between him and Mr. Nicol there 
may have been some little estrangement ; if so, it was ephemeral. 
An unaddrcssed letter of the Poet, dated Mauchline, 7th March 
1788, is supposed to have been intended for Mr. Nicol. In this 
communication the Poet remarks that, " that savage hospitality 


which knocks a man down with strong litiuore, is the devil." ' In 
association with his correwpondcnt, Burns was destined to present 
II different view. In 1789 Mr. Nicol 8|)ent his autumn vacation in 
the vicinity of MofVal. Witli his family he loilged at a place now 
known as Willie's Mill, near the road wliich lea<lH from Moffat to St. 
Mary's Loch. As the vacation of the High Scljool then extended 
from about the 12th of August to tlie 25th of September, Mr. Nicol 
must have in tlie interval resided at Willie's Mill. There tlie Poet 
visited him, in company with their common friend, Allan Masterton, 
who had been on a visit to Dalswinton. ExiK»riencing a hearty 
reception and an exuberant hospitality, the guests evinced an 
abundant joyousness. Burns conii)osed or adapted to the occasion 
the words of ** Willie brew'd a peck o' maut," to which Mastcrton 
composed the air.' 

By exercising an economy, rigid yet not parsimonious, Mr. Nicol 
acquired considerable opulence. On the 26th March 1790 he pur- 
chased from William Kiddell of Commieston, W.S., the lands of 
Meikle and Little Luggan, in the barony of Snaid and parish of 
Glencairn. For these lands, which formed a pai't of the estate 
of Maxwellton, and consisted of 284 acres, Mr. Nicol paid about 
£1500.'^ There was a small cottage on the property; and there, it 
is believed, Mr. Nicol and his family resided during his future 
vacations, the Poet being, so long as he remained at Ellislaud, his 
frequent guest. 

> Library edition of Hurns's Works, iv. 337. at Tarshaw, in the aun« ndgfabourfaood. At 

^ Burns's Glonriddcl Notes. It is all but Tarbolton a tradition, ap]»reutly welNfountliii, 

certiiin that tltc Poet had adapted to the occa- exists to tliis oflect ; but, aa the Poet baa prr- 

aion of Nicol's festivities the words of a song sonally fi.\o<l the song in connexion with his 

whieh he had in a different connexion coin{K>sed friend Nicol, the question may not be further 

a year or two pjTviously, of which the scene was rcopeneil. 

laid ut Willie's Mill, in the parish of Tarbolton, * Lift and Worhi^ qf Sum*, l>y Kol^rt 

two of the heroes being William Muir, miller Cliauilicrs, Edia. 1852, vul. Ui. p. 6.' 
at the Mill of Fail, and Allan Guthrie, ftunicr 


Always ready to exercise his faculty in money-making, Mr. 
Nicol had, during his stay at Moffat, purchased a mare in an un- 
thriving condition, under the belief that his poetical friend at Ellis- 
land would be enabled to recruit its energies so that it might fetch 
a fair price at the next district fair. To oblige Mr. Nicol, the Poet 
received the animal at his farm, and used his best efforts to restore 
its health, but unsuccessfully. In a letter to the owner, dated 
February 9, 1790, he reported that, much to his vexation, the 
animal was dead. Yet the loss, he showed, was inconsiderable, since 
the highest offer he had received for it was fifty-five shillings. 
And, to soothe his friend's irritation on his loss, he concludes his 
letter by presenting four stanzas of humorous poetry. The verses 
commence thus : — • 

Peg Xicliolson was a good bay mare, 

As ever trod on airn ; 
But now she's floating down the Nith, 

And past the mouth o' Cairn. 

When the- Poet had been only about a year in the service of 
the Revenue, his promotion to a supervisorship was contemplated. 
Under the belief that this accession to his status and emoluments 
was near, Mr. Nicol, on the 13th August 1790, addressed to their 
common friend, Robert Ainslie, a characteristic letter : — 

As to Burns, poor folks like you and I must resign all thoughts of future 
correspondence with him. To the pride of applauded genius is now superadded 
the pride of office. He was recently raised to the dignity of an examiner of 
Excise, which is a step preparative to attaining that of a supervisor. Therefore 
we can expect no less than that his language will become perfectly Horatian — ■ 
" odi profanum vulgus et arceo." However, I will see him in a fortnight hence ; 
and if I find that Beelzebub has inflated his heart like a bladder with pride, and 
given it the fullest distention that vanity can efi'ect, you and I will burn him in 


effigy, nnd writo a satiru n» bitter oa gall nnJ wormwood against Government U>r 
etiipluying itfl mernien, like North, to effect its purposes. This will be taking all 
the revenge in our powor. 

The Poet's pr(3ni<)ti<»n was delayed. Meanwhile he gave no 
indication of throwing aside the friendship of his habitually irate, 
yet, in his case, faithful associate. On the 9th April 1791 the 
Poet's wife gave birth to her third son ; he was named William 

In his letter of August 1790 to Mr. Ainslie, Mr. JN'icol had made 
jocular allusion to the Poet being an enemy of the Government. 
This allusion related solely to the Poet's occasional Jacobitism. But 
when, eighteen months later, it had become currently reported that 
the Poet had given countenance to the French patriots, he became 
seriously concerned for his friend's political safety, and so addressed 
to him a letter of remonstrance. That letter is not extant ; but the 
Poet's rejoinder, dated 20th February 1792, sufficiently indicates its 
purport. That rejoinder is conceived in a strain of flippant rhajwody, 
alike unworthy of the Poet's genius and of the concern which had 
been evinced on his behalf. The Poet begins thus : — 

thou wisest among the wise, meridian blaze of prudence, full-moon of 
discretion, and cliiof of many counsellors ! How infinitely is thy puddle-headed, 
rattle-headed, wrong-hended, round-headed, slave indebted to thy supcrcminent 
goodness, that from the luminous path of thy own right-lined rectitude, thou 
lookest benigidy down on an erring wretch, of whom the zig zng wanderings defy 
all the powers of calculation, from the simple copulation of units up to the 
hidden mysteries of fluxions! May one feeble ray of that light of wisdom 
which darts from thy sensorium, straight as the arrow of heaven, and bright as 
the meteor of inspiration,— may it be my ]K)rtion, so that 1 may be less unworthy 
of the face ami favour of that father of proverbs and master of maxims, that 
antiiK)de of folly and magnet among the sages — the wise and witty Willie Nicol ! 

In two further paragraphs, conceived much in the same strain, 
Burns seems to resent Mr. Nicol's concern on his behalf. Happily 


there was no breach of friendship. During the High School vacation 
of 1793, Messrs. Nicol and Masterton spent a week at Dumfries, for 
the purpose of enjoying the Poet's society. During the forenoon 
Burns was occupied with his official duties ; but he dined with his 
friends daily in the Globe Tavern, and there also spent the evenings 
in their society. 

These were times of hard drinking, and it is not uncertain that 
amidst the convivialities of the capital Mr. Nicol had contracted 
social habits particularly unsuited for one of his irascible tempera- 
ment. When Lord Brougham attended the Edinburs:h Ilio-h School, 
in 1790-91, there was familiar among the pupils a rhythmical jai-gon, 
in which Mr. Nicol's supposed intemperance was depicted thus : — 

Sandy Adam loves his book, 

And so do Luke and Frango ; 
Willie Nicol loves his bottle, 

And so does Crukemshango.^ 

Long before Brougham's period, Mr. Nicol had been associated 
with an act of violence. Having experienced what he regarded as 
a public affront from the Rector, Dr. Adam, he, under cloud of night, 
waylaid him in the High School Wynd, and inflicted upon him 
serious injuries. Owing to lack of evidence, he escaped a criminal 
prosecution ; but his guilt was generally credited in the school. 
By Sir Walter Scott, then a pupil of the High School, and in his 
tenth year, was devised a scheme of revenge. The classes of the 
several classical masters the Rector then inspected in rotation, and 
the master whose classes were examined in the interval took care 
of the Rector's. When Mr. Nicol, in his turn, came to teach Dr. 
Adam's class, the chief conspirator was prepared. The task which 

^ Dr, Alexander Adam was the celebrated and " Crukerashango " was Mr. William Cruik- 
Rectorof the High School; "Luke" was Mr, shank. — Lord Brougham's Lift and Timeii, 
Luke Eraser; "Frango" was Mr. James Frasi-r ; vol. i. p. 4". 


the class had ])res(riljed to them was tliat passage in the ^neid of 
Virgil, where the Quecu of Carthage interrogates the court as to the 
stranger who had come to her habitation — 

Quia novus hie hoepcs succossit scdibus iioetris t 

On a slip of paper Scott inscrilxjd the Virgilian line, substituting 
vanus for nomiSy and then atUiched it by a pin to Mr. Nicol's coat, 
therel)y exposing liim to the ridicule of the school.' 

The act of assault took place in December 1782, and Mr. Nicol 
had made confession, also an apology, both to the Rector and to the 
town council as patrons of the school. But his exasperation was 
unallayed, and after an interval renewing the controversy, it Ixjcame 
i lid ilTc rent to him which and what number of his friends or associates 
were involved in his quarrel. Among those whom he sought to 
inveigle in the conflict were Burns and Mrs. M'Lehose. This is 
explained in the following letter from the Poet to his friend, Mr. 
Ainslie : — 

Maucblins, 23rd Awjtid 1788. 

I received your last, my dear friend, but I write you juat now on a vexa- 
tious business. I don't know if ever I told you some very bod rciwrts tlint 

Mrs. M* so once told mo of Mr. Nicol. 1 had mentionetl the affair to Mr. 

Gmikshank, in tlio course of conversation a1)out our common friend, that a laily 
had said so and so, which I suspected had originated from some malevolence of 
Dr. Adam's. He had mentioned this story to Mr. Nicol cursorily, and there it 

rested, till now, prosecution has commenced between Dr. A and Mr. N , 

and Mr. N has pross'd me over and over to give up the lady's name. I 

have refused this ; and last jxist ^fr. N acquaints me, but in very good 

natured terms, that if I persist in my refusal, I am to be served with a sum- 
monds to compear and declare the fact 

Heaven knows how I should proceed ! I have this moment wrote Mrs. 

M* se, tolling her that I have informed you of the affair ; and I shall write 

Mr. Nicol by Tuesday's post that I will not give up my female friend till farther 

' Lockhart's L{ft qf Sir WaUer Scott, Ediu. 1850, 8ro, pp. 10, 80, 81. 


consideration ; but that I have acquainted you Avith the business and the name ; 
and that I have desired you to wait on him, whicli I intreat, my dear sir, you 

will do ; and give up the name or not, as your and Mrs. M' se's prudence 

shall suggest. 

The quarrel between Mr. Nicol and the Kector had at length 
assumed aspects so formidable, that, in order to avoid further scandal, 
the municipal authorities, as patrons of the institution, felt called 
upon to again actively interfere. In the minutes of the town 
council we have the following narrative : — 

2btli January 1791. — The Lord Provost informed that the reason of calling 
this meeting of council was to take into consideration an interlocutor and report 
by the magistrates relative to the long dispute between the Rector and one of 
the subordinate masters of the High School, which had been laid before His 
Majestie's Advocate, Solicitor-General, and Extraordinary Assessor for the city. 
Then the said interlocutor and report was read, and is of the following tenor : — 
"Edinburgh, 19/^ January 1791. — The magistrates having considered the 
different petitions of Doctor Alexander Adam, Rector of the High School of 
Edinburgh, answers for Mr. William Nicol, one of the masters of the said school, 
replies and duplies, with the proof adduced by the petitioner and the proof 
adduced by the respondent, memorial for Mr. Nicol, and haill procedure, find it 
proven that Mr. Nicol, as one of the subordinate masters of the said school, has 
been guilty of a verbal injury of a contumelious nature to Dr. Adam, as Rector, 
for Avhich he ought to receive a severe reproof, with a proper certification, and 
report their opinion that the whole masters of the school shall be convened before 
the council assembled at a full meeting, that then a severe reproof shall be given to 
Mr. Nicol from the chair, intimating that in the event of future transgressions of 
the like nature, immediate dismission from his office will be the consequence ; that 
in the event of any similar transgression in future, it is expected he will instantly 
complain to the patrons. Also that a proper and necessary subordination to the 
Rector be observed by all the other masters. That the Rector and other masters 
be directed to instruct the boys uniformly by Ruddiman's Grammar, and by no 
other. And that the council should adopt regulations for the good government 
of the school, and to appoint them strictly to be adhered to under penalty of 
dismission." Which report before engrossed, being considered by the council 


they unnnimoiiRly approved, and in mldition thereto were of opinion that the 
T/)rd Pnn'OHl should intimate to the Rector that his conduct was not altogether 

free from liliiino. 

The miiiuto, after referring to some general regulations in regard 
to the better administration of High School affairs, proceeds : — 

Thcrcaftor Doctor Adam, the Rector, and Mr. Nicol being called for, they 
aj)j)eared along with the other masters . . . The Lonl Provost from the chair 
roprimondud Mr. Nicol in very severe terms, and intimated to him that immedi- 
ate dismission from his oflicc would bo the consequence of a future tranigreMioP 
of a similar nature.^ 

An irate temper may not be allayed : hence Mr. Nicol again 
subjected himself to strong proceedings on tin* part of the 
magistrates and town council. From their minutes of the 18th 
March 1795, we learn that there was then received the report of a 
sub-committee in reference to further complaints by Dr. Adam against 
Mr. Nicol. The sub-committee recalled the fact that by Mr. Nicol 
" a gross assault had been made upon Dr. Adam on the street, in 
December 1782, which, by the intervention of two honourable 
gentlemen was made up, Mr. Nicol having acknowledged his fault 
in a letter publickly read in the High School." The sub-committee 
further set forth that "after so heinous a fault, Mr. Nicol being 
forgiven, it was to have been expected that his future behaviour would 
have been circumspect." But in 1790 "he had used contumelious 
language to Dr. Adam," for which he was severely reprimanded and 
warned. Now Dr. Adam complained that Mr. Nicol had refused 
him admission into his class-room, and had announced that he was 
to open a class for private teaching, the object of which, Dr. Adam 
averred, was to deprive him of a portion of his fees. The council 
found that Mr. Nicol's conduct in refusing admission to Dr. Adam 

' Edinburgh Town Council Records, vol. cxviL pp. 63, 64. 


was highly censurable, and ordered him to abandon the school 
which he had set up after the last examination, under pain of 

Determined not to yield, Mr. Nicol resigned his office, and in 
September 1795 opened a private classical academy on the north 
side of the High Street, near the Cross. In his public advertisement 
he used these words : — 

The business would be principally conducted in the language of Rome, a 
circumstance which gives a decided superiority to the grammar schools on the 
Continent over those of Great Britain. For the Latin language, proper principles 
premised, may be as easily and speedily acquired, by the constant habit of 
speaking it, as any modern one whatever ; though few in this country seek to 
advert to it. 

In his new venture Mr. Nicol had very partial success, but he 
translated theses for medical students, and thereby supplemented 
his emoluments. Exhausted by controversy, and debilitated through 
social excesses, he died on the 21st April 1797. Some time before 
his death he purchased a place of family sepulture in the Calton 
burial-ground, extending to the breadth of five lairs, in the close 
vicinity of the Hume monument. In that spot his remains were 

For three years preceding his death the Poet seems to have 
ceased to regard Mr. Nicol as one with whom correspondence w^as 
profitable or safe.^ While they were on terms of active friendship, 
he composed on Mr. Nicol the following jocose epitaph : — 

1 Town Council Records, vol. xv. fol. 118. in 1787, the Poet remarked, " His mind is like 

* Though warmly attached to Mr. Nicol, his body ; he has a confounded strong in-kneed 

Burns was from the outset abundantly cognizant sort of a soul." Viewed in connexion with the 

of his acerbity and waywardness. In a con- history of his family, it is nearly certain that 

versation with Professor Walker respecting him, Mr. Nicol was not wholly a responsible agent, 
hi the Duke of Athole's grounds at Blair Athole 


Yo maggoU), fec<l on Nicol's brain, 

For fuw sic feastit yo'vo gotten, 
Yo'vo got n prize o' Willie'H heart, 

For civil a bit o't's rotten. 

A copy of IJiirns's lirHt Etiiiiburgli edition is extant, thus 
inscriljcd, "To William Nicol, a man next after an only brother, the 
dearest friend of the Author." ' Tlie Poet also presented t<j Mr. 
Nicol a fine china punch-l)owl, which, being greatly valued by him, 
was, after his death, placed by the members of his family in a 
handsome stand, to which his miniature portrait, painted on ivory, 
was neatly attached. The bowl was as an heirloom retained in Mr. 
Nicol's family, passing from one member to another. At length, 
owing to the owner's embarrassments, it fell into the hands of 
a gentleman in Newcastle, by whom it was sold to the Earl of 
Rosebery in August 1884. 

William Nicol married a young English gentlewoman,' by whom 
he had seven children, four of whom died in childhood. The three 
survivors were a son, Edward, and two daughters, Margaret and 
Jane. In the Poet's letter to Mr. Nicol of the 9th February 1700, 
the son Edward is noticed thus : " I hope Ned is a good scholar, and 
will come out to gather nuts with me next harvest." E<lward died 
in early manhood. 

Jane, the younger daughter, laboured under cerebral, and 
was confined in a lunatic asylum at Musselburgh. Margaret, the 
elder daughter, born in 1781, married, 5th January 1802, the Rev. 
William Aitken, minister of Scone in Perthshire. Subsequent to 
her husband's death, which took place in 1832, Mrs. Aitken 

> Now in the poeseesion of ox-Bailio Colston ami that .she was imiiicoii Ity Mr. Ni<"l td 

of Edinburgh. btoonie his wife while she was U-uii; i.Iiu.v'.til 

* A trailition ohtnins in the family that at n iMtaHing-school. 
Mrs. Niool'.s fiithcr was Mayor of Ivinninghani, 


removed to 3 Pilrig Place, Edinburgh, where she resided till her 
death, which took place on the 25th July 1859. 

Of the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Aitken were born two sons and 
two daughters. William Nicol, the elder son, practised as a 
physician at Sierra Leone. On the death of his mother he inherited 
the lands of Over and Nether Laggan, and, having returned to this 
country and settled at Penpont, he there died on the 17th May 
1862. At his burial place in Glencairn churchyard a large obelisk, 
suitably inscribed, has been erected to his memory. By his wife, 
Elizabeth Betson, a native of England, he had two sons and two 

Eobert Nicol Aitken, the elder son, born in 1851, qualified him- 
self as an engineer. At his majority in 1872 he succeeded to the 
estate of Laggan, acquired by his great-grandfather, which he after- 
wards sold for £8000, being £5000 in excess of the estimated 
value of the lands, when in 1859 they came into his father's 

William Burns Aitken, the younger son, born in 1858, 
entered a silk-mercer's office in London. Amelia Kate Cope, the 
elder daughter, was born in 1853; Isabella Howat, the younger 
daughter, in 1856. 

James Johnstone, younger surviving son of Mr. and Mrs. Aitken 
of the parish of Scone, was many years chief officer of the royal 
mail steamship Tlie British Queen, sailing between New York and 
Havannah, and was afterwards chief officer on board the Great 
Easteim, when that vessel was engaged in laying out the Atlantic 
cable. Captain Aitken became mentally disordered ; he died in a 
lunatic asylum at Liverpool. He married, without issue. 

Margaret, elder daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Aitken of Scone, 
married Andrew Murray Buist, of the county of Lanark. Helen, 
younger daughter, married, 23rd February 1857, Alexander Brown, 

rnr. xivrn family. 143 

farmer, Millluad, Moniaive, Dunifriessliire ; «lic died at Newcastlc- 
ou-Tyne, 8th June 1872. 

In the churchyard of Ecclefcchan Mr. William Micol erected an 

alt;ir tombstone in iiK^morv of his parents. 


In the twenty-third volume of the Edinburgh Conmiissariot Register 
is recorded the testament and inventory of Andrew Neven of 
Monkiidding in the parish of Kilwinning, who died on the 3rtl 
December 1597 ; his "free gear," which is valued at £944, 17 is 
bequeathed to his second son, Ninian, Thomas, the eldest >ii. 
receiving the family estate. 

In the Bailie Court Book of Cunningham, "Thomas Neviu;; 
of Monkiidding is named in 1636 as bailie-depute of Cunningham. 
In the Court Book Thomas Nevin of Monkryding is on the 16th 
June 1679 associated with Sir John Shaw of Greenock in a process 
of horning ; and in the same register is recorded a bond to John 
Montgomeric, younger of Brigend, for £100, granted on the 8th 
November 1638 by John Nevin of Overkirkwood. 

Prior to the close of the seventeenth century, two or more 
brothers of the name, probably descendants of the families of 
Monkridding or Brigend, settled n <;irvan as chapmen or 
itinerant vendors of portable wares. One of these brothers, John 
Niven, invested his savings in stocking a farm in the vicinity of 
Girvan. His son James, who became tenant at Ardlochan, in the 
parish of Kirkoswald, had four sons, James, William, John, and 
Robert. The two elder sons seem to have died young. 


John, tlie third son, settled as a blacksmith at Damhouse of 
Ardlochan, in Kirkoswald parish. In Carrick he introduced wheel- 
carts of his own manufacture, in substitution for unwheeled sledges 
previously in use. He is the smith to whom the Poet, in " Tam o' 
Shanter," represents the irate wife of his hero as referring in these 

lines : — ■ 

That ev'ry iiaig was ca'd a shoe on, 

The smith and thee gat roarin' fou on. 

John Niven had four sons, John, James, Robert, and Douglas ; also 
four daughters, Jean (first), Jean (second), Joanna, and Janet. 

James, the second son, born 20th September 1766,^ became a 
blacksmith at the Maidens in Kirkoswald parish. lie married his 

cousin, Niven, with issue three sons, also several daughters. 

Robert, the eldest son, a forester, died at Kirkoswald about the year 
1875; his several children emigrated to America. William, the 
second son, became a country blacksmith. David, the third son, 
settled as an ironworker in Glasgow, and attained opulence. 

Robert, fourth son of James Niven, tenant at Ardlochan, rented 
the mill and farm of Ballochneil ^ in Kirkoswald parish. In 
"Tam o' Shanter," he is commemorated in thes^ lines of Kate's 
vigorous denunciations :— 

That ilka melder wi' the miller, 
Thou sat as lang as thou had siller. 

Robert Niven married Margaret Ross, a native of Kintyre ; she 
died on the 7th October 1799, at the age of eighty-six. Margaret, 
the eldest daughter, married Samuel Brown, the Poet's maternal 

"^ Kirkoswald Parish Register. berry Castle. When resident at Balloch- 

'•* Ballochneil mill and farm homestead is neil, Burns was in the habit of walking each 

situated on the Milton stream, formerly known morning along the bank of the Milton stream, 

as Corriston Burn, which, deriving its source between the hours of six and seven. When 

from Craig Dow, a loch on the confines of the he made these walks solitarily he composed 

parish of Dailly, deposits its wat«rs into the verses. 
ocean about a mile to the south of Turn- 


uncle, one of the workers on the farm, and whose household accommo- 
dation consisted of a small apartment which adjoined the mill- 

John Miven, only son of llobert Niven and Margaret Robs, was 
iMjrn in 1754.* When, in the early summer of 1776, the Poet came 
to Kirkoswald, with the view of prosecuting his mathematical 
studies under Mr. Hugh Roger, the parochial schoolmaster, he had 
intended to lodge with his uncle, Samuel Brown, but, as his relative 
had only a single apartment, he was assigned a share of John 
Nivon's bed in a small attic chamber of the farmhouse. 

John Niven was by five years the Poet's senior, but ihey were 
pleased with each other's society, and cherished a close friendship. 
At Burns's suggestion his companion, with his father's permission, 
accompanied him to Mr. Roger's schoolhouse, in order to study 
mensuration, and otherwise to improve himself in mathematical 

The annual .suniiiicr holiday of Kirkoswald scliool was observed 
on the first Thursday of July, the day of the annual horse-fair at 
Ayr ; and the two students at Ballochneil resolved to improve the 
occasion by attempting a fishing expedition on the coast. They 
accordingly, at the small creek or harbour of the Maidens, embarked 
in the Tam o* Shantei', a small boat belonging to Douglas Graham 
of the Shantcr farm, but when they had moved to some distance 
from the coast, they were assailed by a strong gale from the east. 
Such a gale implied danger, but when Niven proposed that they 
should steer shoreward. Burns objected, jocularly remarking that he 
would not abandon his purpose, though the breeze should prove 
strong enough to *' blaw the horns off the kye " [cattle]. At length 
he yielded to the advice of his more experienced companion, 
and, reaching the shore, they effected a landing with some 

' If.' was >>n]>ti«e«l on the 14tli .Inly I7r.4— Kirkoswald Paruh Register. 
VOL. II. 1 


difficulty. Being now overtaken by a violent thunderstorm, accom- 
panied by a heavy rainfall, they hastened for shelter to Shanter 
farmhouse, which stood near, and the occupants of which were on 
intimate terms with the Niven family. On reaching the homestead, 
they found that the farmer was absent at the horse-fair, but by his 
wife, Mrs. Graham, they were cordially welcomed. 

As the storm continued, the friends remained till the evening. 
Careful and industrious as a domestic manager, Mrs. Graham 
indulged a querulous temper and spoke rashly. She expected her 
husband to return early in the evening, and, as he failed to pre- 
sent himself, she energetically expatiated on his convivial irregu- 
larities, and, among other untoward vaticinations, assured the 
young men that she apprehended that some day he would fall into 
the Doon. Mrs. Graham associated in her denunciation Johnnie 
Davidson, the neighbouring shoemaker, who, as she informed her 
visitors, had accompanied her husband to Ayr to purchase leather 
for soles, to be used with their home -tanned skins in providing 
shoes for the family. 

In returning together to Ballochneil, Burns expatiated to 
his companion on the wanton censures of the gudewife, more 
especially in relation to her quaint expletives. Next morning 
he seized a newspaper which lay in the apartment, and on . the 
margin inscribed some lines with a pencil ; it was his first draft 
of "Tam o' Shanter." When, many years afterwards, Mr. Niven 
received a MS. copy of the poem from Mr. Aiken of Ayr, he read it 
to the farmer of Shanter, remarking that he was the hero. Unmoved 
by the striking descriptions, or even the allusions to his vituperative 
helpmate, Graham was content to remark that it " was a parcel o' 
lees, for he never owned a grey mare, or one named Meg — or ony 
kind o' beast without a tail." 

In August 178G, when the Poet visited Carrick to express an 


adieu to his friendH, an<l crollcct outHt/iiuling HuhscriptionH for his 
])oeins, John Nivcn ami Ilugli R^)ger, tlic schoolmaster, had a s<Hial 
meeting with him at Maybolc. The friends did not again meet. 

John Niven 8uccee<led his father in the lease of Ballochneil farm. 
Nott'd for his henevolence, he cvini-ed i-onsiderateness and self-denial 
hy bringing ids meal into the market at MaylnJe, when, at a time 
of prevailing wyircity, the neighhouring farmers hoai-ded their 
produce, in the hope of still further enhancing the prices. In token 
of aj>preciation of his honourable conduct he received from the 
magistrates of Maylx)le the freedom of the burgh. 

John Nivcn married, on the 29th July 1790, Jean Roger, only 
surviving daughter of the Kirkoswald schoolmaster, with issue one 
son and seven daughters. To Miss Janet Niven, a younger daughter, 
who died in Mahaar, Kirkcolm, Wigtownshire, on the 3rd May 
1888, the writer owes much of his information in regard to the 
Kirkoswald families. John Niven died on the 31st Octol)er 1822, 
at the age of sixty-eight ; his wife on the 17th January 1847, aged 
eighty -four. 

One of the brothers, who settled as chapmen at Girvan, late in 
the seventeenth century, was William Niven. By a course of 
successful trading he acquired wealth, which he employed in 
stocking several small farms in the neighbourhood, which he took 
in lease. He had three sons, Adam, David, and Rolx?rt 

Adam Niven, the eldest son, leased the farm of Balchryston, near 
Culzean ; he married, with issue. One of the sons, Charles Niven, 
was bailiff or land-steward on an estate in Oxfonlshire ; his grand- 
daughter, the late Madame Sainton-Dolby, was a celebrated vocalist. 

David Niven, the second brother, prosecuted merchandise at 
May]>ole, and attained office \\\ the magistracy. He had four sons, 

William, David, and two others. David and settled in 

Jamaica, and largely prospered. They died unmarried. William, 


the eldest son, born 24tli February 1759/ received instruction from 
Mr. Hugh Roger, as a private pupil, at the time that the Poet 
and John Niven were also private students under Mr. Roger's roof. 
Struck by the brilliant humour of his new acquaintance, William 
Niven cultivated his friendship, and frequently conducted him on 
the Saturdays to his father's house at Maybole. 

The intimacy thus formed was steadily maintained, and when, 
ten years afterwards, Burns issued proposals for printing his poems, 
he appealed to his Kirkoswald schoolfellow for aid in the subscrip- 
tion. William was now a merchant in Maybole in partnership with 
his father, and when, about the middle of August 1786, the Poet 
proceeded thither with the view of ol)taining the subscription- 
money, William extended to him a cordial welcome. He enter- 
tained him at the King's Arms Hotel, bringing to meet him at 
supper some of the principal burgesses. On his return to Mossgiel 
the Poet communicated with William Niven in the following 
letter : — • 

My Dear Friend, — I have been very throng ever since I saw you, and have 
not got the whole of my promise performed to you ; but you know the old 
proverb, " The break o' a day's no' the break o' a bargain." Have patience and I 
will pay you all. I thank you with the most heartfelt sincerity for the worthy 
knot of lads you introduced me to. Never did I meet with as many congenial 
souls together, without one dissonant jar in the concert. To all and each of them 
make my most friendly compliments, particularly " Spunkie youth Tammie." 
Kcmember me in the most respectful way to Bailie and Mrs. Niven, Mr. Dun, 
and the two truly worthy old gentlemen I had the honor of being introduced 
to on Friday ; tho' I am afraid the conduct you forced me on may make them 
see me in a light I would fondly think I do not deserve. I will perform the rest 
of my promise soon. In the meantime remember this — never blaze my songs 
among the million, as I would abhor to hear every prentice mouthing my poor 
performances in the streets. Every one of my Maybole friends is welcome to 

' Maybole Parish Register. 


a copy if tliey chuse ; Imt I ilon't wish them to go farther. I mean it a« a 
Hiitnll mark of my rospect for them, a respect ox sincere as the love of dying 
saints. — I am ever, my dear William, your obliged, 

MoswoiKi, 30//t Awjiuit 17RG. Robeht Uuhnh.' 

** Spuiikie )tnitli Taniniif ua.-^ ili<.iu.i.-> l'i|>»'», wlm tiitn a< u*«l 
<is professional assistant to Dr. Hugh Logan, a physician in May- 
l>ole ; he emigrated to Jamaica, and there died. Tlic "Bailie" 
iiid "Mrs. Niven" were his corresjxnidunt's parents. "Mr. Dun," 
or Dunn, was the parish sclioohnaster ; lie died on the 5th July 
1810, at the age of fifty-one.' 

William Niven succeeded his father in the lands of Kirkland 
Hill, lie also atUvined an important accession to his fortune hy 
succeeding to the estiites of his two brothers in Jamaic^i, who died 
unmarried. His personal property was latterly estimated at not 
less than £100,000. He became noted for his parsimony.* He 
died on the 13th December 1844, at the advanced age of eighty- 

William Niven espoused, in 1796, Isabella Goudic, a native of 
Maybole ; she died 15th February 1841.* His marriage being with- 
out issue, Mr. Niven settled his fortune on Charlotte, only child 
of Hugh Hutchison of Southfield, Renfrewshire, grand - daughter 
of his l)rother. Dr. Niven of Middlebie in Dumfriesshire. This lady 
married, in 1832, Sir Thomas Montgomerie Cunninghame of Corshili, 
and had issue the present baronet and other children. Lady 
Montgomerie Cunninghame has since added Niven to her family 
name. She became a widow in 1870. 

Robert Niven, third son of William Niven, chapman and farmer 

> The original of this letter is now in tlie he changed his intention, owing to his Wing 

possession of Mr. Hoimic, banker, M.nybolo. infornio<l that his early conii>anion was jwr- 

^ Tomlwtone in Miiybole Churchynrvi. vaded by the single idea of how to become rich. 

• For William Niven the Poet originally in- * Tontlistone iu Maybole Churchyarvl. 

tended his " Epistle to a Young Friend," but ' Ihi<l. 


at Girvan, settled in that place as a general merchant. He entered 
the town council, and attained office in the magistracy. He 
married Agnes Stevenson, grand-daughter of John Stevenson, a 
sufferer for the Covenant, and whose memorials of himself, entitled 
A Soul-Strengthening and Comfortmg Cordial, have been frequently 
reprinted. In issuing from the press in 1729 the first edition of 
these memorials,^ the editor, Mr. William Cupples, minister of 
Kirkoswald, describes the writer as " the most eminently pious man 
he ever knew^ ; " he adds that " his life was a life of prayer, medita- 
tion, and holiness." From his youth impressed seriously, Stevenson 
consecrated his energies to the cause of Presbytery ; and, though 
occupying no higher status than that of an agricultural labourer, he 
was, by the local abettors of a despotic Government, selected for 
prosecution. About the year 1679 his father's house at Dailly was 
surrounded by a party of dragoons, five of their number being 
quartered on the household. In this manner his seizure was con- 
templated, but he eluded the vigilance of his pursuers. During a 
subsequent winter he and his young wife preserved their freedom by 
taking shelter under a haystack. For a time his wife and sister 
were, under the charge of rebellion, committed to the prison of 
Maybole. He ascribes his own preservation from arrest to the 
frequency and fervour of his devotions. Long surviving the times 
of persecution, he died in 1728, at an advanced age. 

Bailie Robert Niven died at Girvan on the 2nd December 1807, 
at the age of seventy-nine ; his wife, Agnes Stevenson, died 27th 
December 1810, in her ninetieth year. 

Of the marriage of Robert Niven and Agnes Stevenson were 
born two sons, Alexander and Robert ; also two daughters, Janet and 

^ "A Bare Soul-Strengthening and Comfort- of Daily, who died in the year 1728," 1729, 
ing Cordial for Old and Young Christians, d:c., 12mo. 
by John Stevenson, land labourer in the parish 


Agnes. Alexander, the elder son, was baptized in Febiiiary 1760.* 
lie was a day-lK)arder with Hugh Roger at Kirkoswald when the 
I'oet was resident in the place. The lads became intimate. 

Aftervvjinls tutor in the family of Mr. IlaniilUon of Sundrum 
in the parish of t'oylton, which borders that of Mnuchline, Alexander 
Niven renewed his acMpiaintance with the Poet by visiting him at 
Mossgiel. One afternoon he arrived at Mossgiel to invite the Poet 
to forthwith join a party of friends. Burns, who was in the bam 
ihrnshing grain, remarked that he could not leave his work un- 
liiiished, but that if his friend would assist him in completing it, 
lio would thereafter attend to his summons. Mr. Niven readily 
complied; and when the grain was duly cleansed and stacked for 
market, the friends proceeded to Coylton. 

Having studied theology at the University of Glasgow, Alexander 
Niven was, on the 4th October 1786, licensed to preach by the 
IVcHbytery of Ayr. As he was still resident at Sundrum, he begged 
llie Poet that he would not attend any service conducted by him until 
he had acquired .some ministerial experience. Burns accordingly 
abstained from becoming his auditor when he conducted service at 
Coylton and Mauchline ; but, learning that he was to preach else- 
where, he slipped quietly into a pew, where he hoped that his 
l>resence would l^e unobserv'cd. For a time the preacher did not 
discover him ; but when he did he became confused, and, as he was 
preaching without notes, felt conq^ollcd to n1»ru]>tly finisli his 

Mr. Niven was, on the 18th July 1793, ordained minister of 
Dunkeld. Distinguished for his theological learning, he, in 1816, 
received the degree of D.D. from the University of St. Andrews. 

' Girvan Parish Register. Owing to a blcniiah who doea not, however, give tlie preacher's name. 

ill tlie reoonl, the precise date of baptism is not Wc have related tlie story as we received it from 

njuMm-nt. the preacher's grandson. 

* The anee(h)tu is n'luted hy Profes-sm Walker, 


He died on the 3rd November 1833, in his seventy-fourth year. He 
married, 5th May 1794, Susanna Stewart, elder daughter of Captain 
Dick of Auchnagee, and aunt of the distinguished Sir Robert Dick 
of Tullymet; she died 31st March 1834, Of the marriage were 
born six sons and a daughter. Humphry Dick, the eldest son, an 
assistant surgeon in the Indian army, was killed in the attack upon 
Nagpore ; William, the third son, died in India ; John Dick, the 
fourth son, was born blind ; Robert, the fifth son, became a Writer 
to the Signet ; Charles Murray, the sixth son, succeeded to the living 
of Dunkeld, and died in 1835. 

Alexander Niven, second son of the Rev. Dr. Alexander Niven 
and Susanna Dick, was, in 1825, ordained minister of Balfron. By 
his wife Eliza, daughter of the Rev. Dr. Thomas Brown, one of the 
ministers of Glasgow, he had issue four sons, Alexander, Thomas 
Brown, William, and Frederick ; also a daughter, Eliza Susanna. 


Among the Poet's comrades at Kirkoswald was Tom Orr, a lad of 
his own age. His father, William Orr, occupied a small cottage on 
the farm of Park near Ballochneil, and was employed as an agricul- 
tural labourer, and his mother, Jean Robinson, was a daughter of 
that Julia Robinson who was reputed as a witch. Intending to 
be a sailor, Tom was a student of navigation in Mr. Hugh Roger's 
school at the time the Poet and John Niven were there prosecuting 
their studies in mensuration and geometry. He next appears as 
harvesting at Lochlea in September 1780.^ And in August 1781 he 

^ Library edition of Burns's Works, iv. 363. 

en a: 

CC en 

■^ 2: 


^ O >o 
IxJ -J 

; ^ iiio) 

= i3 

en > L. o 
u CD < :d 
< \L< 

h !- 

h U] 

-i Q. 




was again Hummoncd by William Bumcs to assiftt him in han'Cftt. 
His note of summons, hcrewitli presented in fac-simile, proceeds 
thus; — 

TiiD.MAs, — I want yon t<» l)o horo to your harvest by Mojiilay first, for we 
begin on Tousduy to our wheat. My wife duHiros onquirf, and bring her word 
how her brother John's wife \k — I am, your*, etc, Wiixiam Rurnib. 

IXK^HI.IB, 3rr/ AwjMut [1781]. 

On returning to Kirkoswald at the end of harvest 1781, Orr 
carried from the Poet complimentary messages to various persons in 
the locality, including his old flame, Peggy Thomson. And on the 
30th October Tom addressed his former schoolfellow in a rhyming 
epistle. His verses are much too doggerel for quotation, save in the 
concluding couplet, in which he remarks : — 

This is sent a present from 

Your ever [faithful] servant, Tom. 

In reply to Orr's rhyme, the Poet, evidently in allusion to his 
attempting business as a flax-dresser, writes thus : — 

Wliat is't to me a passenger, — God wot. 
Whether my vessel be first rate or not 1 
Tlie ship itself nmy make a better figure, 
But I who sail am neither less nor bigger.^ 

In a letter to Thomas Orr, now for the first time printed,' dated 
Lochlie, September 7th [1782], the Poet writes : — 

Dear Sir, — I have been designed to write to you of a long time, but was nt 
a loss for a direction, as I am ignorant what place of tlie country you are in. I 
have nothing to toll you of news ; for myself, I am going on in my old way, 
taking as light a burden as I can, of the cares of the world ; studying men, their 
manners and their ways, as well as I can. Believe me, Tom, it is the only study 

1 The Poet's letter which includes these lines ia in the pooMnion of Mr. John Westwood 

Oliver of l^ndon. 

* Also iu fac-simile in vol. i. 



in this world will yield solid satisfaction. To be rich and to be great are the 
grand concerns of this world's men, and to be sure, if moderately pursued, it is 
laudable, but where is it moderately pursued % The greater part of men grasp 
at riches as eagerly as if poverty were but another word for damnation and 
misery, whereas I affirm that the man whose only wish is to become great and 
rich, whatever he may appear to be, or whatever he may pretend to be ; at the 
bottom he is but a miserable wretch. Avoid this sordid turn of mind if you 
would be happy. Observe mankind around you ; endeavour by studying the 
wisdom and prudence of some, and the folly and madness of others, to make 
yovirself wiser and better. I hope you will write me soon, and tell me what 
your mind is employed in, what your studies principally are ; and believe me 
that you may be wise and virtuous, generous and humane, is the sincere wish of 
your friend, Robt. Burness.^ 

LocHLiE, September 7th. 

To a letter from Orr in the autumn of 1784, informing him that 
Peggy Thomson was about to be wedded to the young farmer at 
Minnybee, the Poet answered thus : — 

Dr Thomas, — I am much obliged to you for your last letter, tho' I assure 

you the contents of it gave me no manner of concern. I am at present so 

taken in with an affair of gallantry, that I am very glad Peggy is off my hand, 
as I am at present embarrassed enough without her. I don't choose to enter into 
particulars in writing, but never was a poor rakish rascal in a more pitiful 
taking. I should be glad to see you to tell you the affair, meanwhile I am, 
your friend, Robert Burnbss.^ 

MossQAViL, nth Novemher 1784. 

About the year 1785, Orr, who had hitherto assisted his father 
as a field labourer, fulfilled a long-cherished intention of becoming 
a seaman. He was drowned in his first voyage. 

' This letter is clearly to be ascribed to the ^ This letter is printed for the first time 

year 1782. In the MS. the original signature iu the Library edition of Burns's Works, 

"Burness" has by another hand been con- edited by William Scott Douglas, vol. iv. 

verted into Burns ; the four last letters, urns, pp. 50, 51. 
having been written over in a heavier hand. 



Thk Huguenot fomily of De Peyster, exiled from I'lance (Imm- m.* 
religiouH persccutious of Charles IX., found refuge in Holland. 
Jt)hanne8 de Peyster, a member of the family, and a native of 
Haarlem, emigrated to America along with his wife Cornelia Luttcrs, 
and about the year 1652 settled at New Amsterdam, as the city of 
New York was then designated. Engaging in merchandise, he 
greatly prospered, and, after holding different municipal offices, was 
in 1677 elected Mayor of New York, but he declined the office 
owing to his imperfect acquaintance with the English tongue. 
Descendants of Johannes de Peyster acquired settlements in New 
York State ; * also in other parts of the American continent. 

A scion of the New York family, the subject of the present 
memoir, held a military command at Detroit, Michilimaokinac, and 
several other localities during the Seven Years' War, and in 
this connexion distinguished himself by detaching the Indians from 
the service of the French. He also served in other parts of North 
America under his uncle. Colonel Schuyler, and latterly obtained 
command of the 8th Regiment. Retiring from his military duties 
at an advanced age, he established his residence at Mavis Grove, 
near Dumfries. The colonel married early in life Rebecca, one of 
the two daughters of David Blair, who from 1790 to 1792 was 
Provost of Dumfries. Mrs. de Peyster's only sister was wife of John 
M'Murdo, chamberlain at Drumlanrig, on whose introduction the 
Poet, on coming from Ellisland to Dumfries, found in the veteran of 
many wars an associate particularly to his liking. For the colonel 
not only possessed the generous warmth common to persons of his 

' Conttmporary Biography of New York, vol. L 393. 


profession, but he was actuated by a fine poetical sensibility, and 
composed verses of no inconsiderable merit.^ 

During the movement for the national defence consequent on 
the menaces of the Eevolution Government of France, Colonel de 
Peyster took a prominent part in embodying at Dumfries two com- 
panies of volunteers, and of these he was, on the 24th March 1795, 
appointed major commandant. Among those who joined his corps 
was the Poet, who, in honour of the movement, composed his ode, 
beginning, " Does haughty Gaul invasion threat ? " When, in the 
course of that illness which terminated in his death, the Poet 
received some kind inquiries from the colonel as to his health, he 
replied in these verses : — 

My honor'd colonel, deep I feel 

Your interest in the poet's weal \ 

Ah ! now sma' heart hae I to speel 
The steep Parnassus, 

Surrounded thus by bolus pill 
And potion glasses. 

O what a canty warld were it, 

Would pain and care and sickness spare it ; 

And fortune favor worth and merit 

As they deserve ; 
An aye a rowth roast beef and claret j 

Syne wha wad starve ? 

Dame Life, though fiction out may trick her, 
And in paste gems and frippery deck her ; 
Oh ! flickering, feeble, and unsicker 

I've found her still, 
Aye wavering like the willow-wicker, 

'Tween good and ill. 

1 M'Dowall's Alemonals of St, Michael's a poetical controversy, which was conducted 
Churchyard, pp. 161, 162. Unknown to each in the columns of the Dum/riea Journal. 
other, the field-officer and the Poet engaged in 


But lost you think I am uncivil 

To plague you with this drounting ilrivul, 

Abjuring a' intontionH evil, 

I quat niy pen. 
The Lord preserve ua frne the devil, 

Amen I Amen. 

On tbc 26tli July 1796, when the Poet's remains were comdgiied 
to St. Micliael's Churchyard, Colonel de Peyster attended in com- 
mand of his body of volunteers. He was then about the age of 
seventy, and he survived the Poet twenty -six years. On the 
occasion of his funeral, his fellow-townsmen testified their respect 
by attending in large numbers. On a monument raised at his 
grave in St. Michael's Churchyard is the following inscription : — 

Sacrod to the memory of Aront Schuyler de Peyster of Mavis Grove, who 
diod on the 26th of November 1822, at a very advanced ago, of which upwards 
of sixty years won* devoted to the service of his king and country. He was no 
less distinguished by his loyalty and honourable principles than by the cordiality 
of his manners, and the warmth and sincerity of his friendslu'iie ; and his 
memory will long be cheri8he<l and revered by those who enjoyed the happiness 
of his acquaintance. Of the Christian humility of his mind, a fair eeiimate 
may bo forniud from tho following simple linos, written by him within a week 
of his death : — 

Raise no vain structure o'er my grave — 
One simple stone is all I crave ; 
To say beneath a sinner lies 
Who died in hopes again to rise, 
Through Christ alone, to bo forgiven 
And fittod for the jovn of lioavon. 

In relation to Colonel de Peyster, the Lhtmfrir.< Councr, in 
an obituary notice, presented the following anecdote. When 
George IV. was on his visit to Scotland in 1822, he asked the 
Marquis of Quecnsbcrry whether his old friend, the colonel, was 


still alive. Replying in tlie affirmative, the Marquis explained that 
nothing but the advanced age and growing infirmities of his wife 
would have prevented him from repairing to Holyrood on so inter- 
esting an occasion. "Well," said the King, "I am sorry for it ; they 
must be truly a venerable couple, for one of my earliest remembrances 
is that I danced Monymush with Mrs. de Peyster." The King referred 
to the period when, about 1778, he had, as Prince of Wales, visited 
Plymouth, when the garrison of the place was under the colonel's 
command. Tall in person. Colonel de Peyster presented a fine, 
soldier-like bearing, and his manners were gentle and conciliatory. 


In the year 1591, one of the portioners of the lands of Ochtertyre, 
in the parish of Kincardine-in-Menteith, near Stirling, was named 
Ramsay, and in the valuation of Perthshire of 1649, James Ramsay is 
entered as possessing " the two parts of Ochtertyre, valued at £105, 
6s. 8d." On the 5th November 1697, John Ramsay, portioner of 
Ochtertyre, acquired by purchase an additional share of the Ochter- 
tyre estate.^ His son practised at Edinburgh as a Writer to the 
Signet, and by his wife, a daughter of Ralph Dundas of Manor,^ 
and niece of Bishop Burnet, had a son, John. This gentleman, who 
forms the subject of the present memoir, was born in Edinburgh on 
the 26th August 1736. After an elementary training in the classics 
under Mr. Barclay, a teacher of reputation at Dalkeith, he entered as 

1 Perthshire Register of Sasines, vol. xi. fol. was wife of George Abercromby of Tullibody, 
426. and mother of Sir Ralph Abercromby. 

3 Another daughter of Mr. Ralph Dundas 


ii student the University of Eilinburgh, and, selecting the legal 
I trofession, passed as an advocate. But the death of his father, while 
lie was still under age, led him to forego his prospects at the Bar, 
and to engage wholly in rural pursuits. Though he now made the 
country his stated home, he continued to pass the winters at Edin- 
burgh, and there his classicuU tiistcs gave him access to the best 
literary society. With Lord Kames he became a special favourite ; 
lie was also on terms of intimacy with Dr. Gleig, Bishop of Brechin, 
( (litor of the Eiicyclopwdia Britannica. But his more cherished 
companions were Dr. Macleod, Professor of Church History at 
Glasgow, and Dr. David Doig, Rector of the High School of Stirling. 
As a private tutor at Eton, Professor Macleod had become conver- 
sant with the niceties of Latin versification, and Dr. Doig was no 
less remarkable for his intimate familiarity with the ancient classics ; 
consequently Mr. Ramsay conducted with them a classical corre- 
-l)ondenc',e, while their personal conversations were occasionaUy con- 
ducted in the Roman tongue. Mr. Ramsay further gratified his 
classical predilections by adorning his demesne with sculptured 
tablets, bearing Latin inscriptions.* 

When Burns was sojourning at Hars^ieston in October 1787, he 
visited Mr. Ramsay at Ochtertyre, having some time previously 
been introduced to his notice by Dr. Blacklock. Writing to AVilliam 
Nicol from Ochtertyre, in Strathearn, on the 15th October, the Poet 
remarks : " I called at Mr. Ramsay's of Auchtertyre as I came up the 
country, and am so delighted with him, that I shall certainly accept 
of his invitation to spend a day or two with him as I return." And 
in a letter despatched on the same day to Mr. William Cruikshank, 
he writes, " I leave this place, I suppose, on Wednesday, and shall 

1 In the year 1777 Mr. Ramnay was aaaociated inscription for the roonument of Dr. Tobias 
w ith Dr. Samuel Juhnsoii and Professor George Smollett, then reared on the banks of the 

Stuart of Edinburgh in pn^paring the Latin I.even. 


devote a day to Mr. Eamsay of Auchtertyre, near Stirling, — a man 
to whose worth I cannot do justice." 

In the course of a southern tour, Mr. Eamsay visited the Poet 
at EUisland. In relation to his visit, he communicated to Dr. 
Currie the following narrative : — 

I had an adventure with Burns in the year 1790, when passing through 
Dumfriesshire on a tour to the south, with Dr. Stewart of Luss. Seeing him 
pass quickly near Closeburn, I said to my companion, *' That is Burns." On 
coming to the inn, the ostler told us he w<viild be hack in a few hours to grant 
permits ; that when he met with anything seizable he was no better than any 
other gauger ; in everything else that he was perfectly a gentleman. After 
leaving a note to be delivered to him on his return, I proceeded to his house, 
being curious to see his Jean, etc. I was much pleased with his uxor Sabma 
qiialis, and the Poet's modest mansion, so unlike the habitation of ordinary 
rustics. In the evening he suddenly bounced in upon us, and said, as he 
entered, " I come, to use the words of Shakespeare, stewed in haste," In fact 
he had ridden incredibly fast after receiving my note. We fell into conversa- 
tion directly, and soon got into the mare magnum of poetry. He told me that 
he had now gotten a story for a drama, which he was to call " Rob Macquechan's 
Elshon," from a popular story of Robert Bruce being defeated on the water of 
Caini, when, the heel of his boot having loosened in his flight, he applied to 
Robert Macquechan to fix it, who, to make sure, ran the awl nine inches up the 
King's heel. We were now going on at a great rate, when Mr. Stewart popped 
in his head, which put a stop to our discourse, that had become very interesting. 
Yet in a little while it was resumed, and such were the force and versatility of 
the Bard's genius, that he made the tears run down Mr. Stewart's cheeks, 
albeit unused to the poetic strain.^ 

Among the associates of Mr. Ramsay's latter years was Sir 
Walter Scott. In 1790, shortly after being called to the Bar, Scott 

^ The Rev. Dr. John Stewart, tninister of Luss, General Assembly. Dr. Stewart was an eminent 
was distinguished as the translator of the Old botanist, and was otherwise remarkable for his 
Testament Scriptures into Gaelic. In acknow- scientific attainments. He died 24th May 1821, 
ledgment of this service, he received a Treasury in the seventy-eighth year of his age and forty- 
grant of £1000, also the special thanks of_the eighth of his ministry. 


mmlt; a visit to Oclitertyre, and whon, in 1796, he published his 
translations of '* Halhids from Burger," he sent a copy to Mr. 
Kanisay. In acknowledging the gift Mr. Ramsay remarked, **I 
meet with little poetry now-a-days that touches my heart ; hut your 
translations excite mingled emotions of pity and terror." According 
to Loekhart, the laird of ()(rhtertyre, together with George Consta])le 
and Clerk of Eldin, suggested to the great novrllsf liis rlmiMctor of 
" Jonathan Oldbuck." 

Latterly Mr. Ramsay was afflicted with blindness, but under 
the deprivation he derived some comfort by composing Latin 
hexameters. He died at Oclitertyre on the 2nd March 1814, and 
his remains were deposited in the old church of Kincardine-in- 
Mentcith. In the new church of that a monument has Ikjch 
erected to his memory, l)earing the following inscription, composed 

by himself: — 

Vitffi mortalis fineni anticiimns 
Hoc cpitaphiiini n soipso fuctuin 

Tunuilo inscribi jussit 

Joannes Knnisay do Ochtertyre. 

Suspirare agricolap, nc gravoniiiii I 

Erat enim vostcr amicus 
Qui benevolentiie forsum erroribuB 

Satis 8Ui)orquo indulgel)at. 

Kipti cnim pingiiituiline vol scniu 

Nunquain uiinio labore absumcbantur. 

Vetuluni, servum, opificomve, 

Eorumquo viiluas 

Aspiccre, alloqui, fovere, 

lUi adinoilum placcbat. 

Colonos letos, industries avitos 

M^'ori vectigali scions praetulit. 

JuTentDB sodales ! At {viuci supcrstites I 

Vobis ponia, vol epistolas mittere 
lUi vero umbratili, emt pro ncgotiis. 


En ipse qui aliorum marmora 

Pie inscribere solebat 

Vobis e sepulchre supremum dicit vale ! 

0, si dolore, morbo, morte, feliciter devictis, 

Amicitia in terris inchoata 

Fiat coelestis amor ! 
Prseivit — vos sequemini ! 

Obiit VI, Non. Mart. MDCCCXIV atat. 77. 

Ramsay lived and died a bachelor ; but the writer was informed 
by his friend, Dr. David Irving, that it was understood he was 
engaged to a young lady who lost her life by the fall of the North 
Bridge of Edinburgh on the 3rd August 1769, when other four 
persons were also overwhelmed in the ruins. 

Apart from his classical recreations, Mr. Ramsay employed a 
portion of his time in making extensive notes of his reading, 
recollections, and experiences, which, under distinct heads, he 
embodied in ten large MS. volumes. A compilation of their more 
important contents, prepared by Mr. Alexander Allardyce, was 
issued by him in 1888 in two thick octavo volumes, under the title 
of Scotland and Scotsmen in the Eighteenth Century. And this 
work, though not an exhaustive performance, is, in respect of the 
author's observations on contemporary manners and his recollections 
of notable contemporaries, a not unimportant contribution to the 
national history. 

By testamentary settlement, Mr. Ramsay bequeathed his estate 
to his cousin-german, James Dundas. Mr. Dundas was succeeded 
by his son, the Right Honourable Sir David Dundas, Q.C., at whose 
death, on the 30th March 1877, the estate passed to his nephew, a 
son of Lord Manor, a military officer, who was killed in India. In 
the estate this gentleman was succeeded by his twdn brother, Captain 
Dundas of the Royal Navy, the present owner. 



One of the Poet's associates at Lochlea was Jolm liunkin«*, wiio Il-jihcmI 
tlie lU'i^liljouriiig farm of Adamhill. llankine Wius, whcu the Poet 
foniied his ac(|uaiiitnnce, alx)ut liis fiftieth year, and the father of a 
raiiiily advancing into maturity. Eminently social and fond of 
merriment, he was in the habit of indulging his humour by quaint 
and curious narratives in the form of dreams. To that jxiculiarity 
of his jocund neighbour, and another, less pardonable, — that of 
stealthily intoxicating an austere religious professor, — the Poet refers 
in a poetical epistle beginning, " O rough, rude, ready-witted 

By the Poet the farmer at Adamhill was addressed in two other 
rljyming compositions ; the former an epistle beginning, ** I am a 
keeper of the law," and an epitaph commencing, ** Ac day, as Death, 
that gruesome carl." 

Anne, youngest daughter of John Rankine, was heroine of the 
Poet's song, " The Rigs o' Barley." She married John Merry, inn- 
keeper, Cumnock, and died on the 20th August 1843, having 
survived her husband forty -one years. With her husband and five 
sons she is commemorated on a family tombstone in Cumn(x-k 
Ohurchyard. Though in her modes somewhat severe and rigid, she 
warmly cherished the Poet's memory, and rejoiced to sing the song 
which had made her famous. 


The family of Richmond in Ayrshire is of some antiquity. In the 
parish cliurchyard of Galston two martyred Covenanters of the 


name are monumentally commemorated. One of these, Andrew 
Richmond, is on his tombstone described as " killed by bloody 
Graham of Claverhouse in June 1679 for his adherence to the word 
of God and Scotland's covenanted work of reformation." Respecting 
the other, John Richmond, younger of Knowe, it is set forth that 
he was executed at the Cross of Glasgow, on the 19th March 1684, 
his remains being interred in the High Churchyard of that city. 
To some unknown parish in Ayrshire Donald Richmond, who 
graduated at the University of Glasgow in 1644, was admitted after 
1662. Having accepted Episcopal ordination, after professing him- 
self a strict Presbyterian, he became deeply dejected, and died 
comfortless.* James Richmond, who at the University of Glasgow 
graduated in 1665, was, on the 27th March 1688, ordained minister 
of St. Quivox ; he died in 1700, in the twelfth year of his ministry.^ 

A scion of the Ayrshire family, James Richmond, was born in 
1744. Licensed to preach in 1769, he was ordained to the minis- 
terial charge of Irvine on the 15th March 1774. In 1782 he, after 
examining the Poet as to his scriptural knowledge, admitted him to 
the holy communion. In 1800 he received the degree of D.D. from 
the University of Glasgow. He died on the 16th July 1804, at the 
age of sixty.' One of his two sons, John, was for many years 
minister of the parish of Southdean, in the county of Roxburgh. 

A younger son of the laird of East Montgarswood, in the 
western district of Sorn, John Richmond was born in that parish 
in 1765. Educated at the school of Newmilns, he, about his 
seventeenth year, became a clerk in the chambers of John and Gavin 
Hamilton, writers in Mauchline. The Poet, when he formed the 
intimacy of Gavin Hamilton, also cherished the acquaintance of his 
clerk, whom he found a vigorous reader, and eminently social. At 
an early stage of their friendship Richmond made the Poet known 

» Fasti Ecd. Scot, ii. 149. 2 Jbid. ii. 137. ^ Ibid. ii. 155. 


to James Smith, a youiij; draper in the phice, and the three pro- 
ceeded to form a club, which met at the Wliitefoord Arm«, under 
the jocose appellative of ** The Court of Etjuity." Of this socio- 
juridical conclave the Poet was c<mstitutcd l*resident, James Smith 
Procurator- Fisiul, and John Hichmond Clerk of Court A fourth 
memher was added, William Hunter, an intelligent shoemaker, who 
was constituted Messenf^er-at-Arms. 

In the Cowgatc, a narrow street nearly opposite the entrance 
gate of Mauchlino Churchyard, a humble dwelling, occupied by a 
Mrs. Gibson, familiarly known as ** Poosic Nancy," was used by her 
as a tavern, also as a lodging-house for vagrants and pedlars of the 
lowest class. The Whitefoonl Arms, in which asseml^led the fun- 
loving members of the Court of E<iuity, stood in another street, but 
only a few yards distant from Poosie Nancy's cottage. Returning 
one evening from their usual howff, Burns and his friends Smith 
and Richmond were attracted l)y the more than wonted uproar in 
Nancy's dwelling. Knocking at the door, they were idlowed admis- 
sion, and, having made a pecuniary contribution, were permitted to 
witness the rough and boisterous hilarity. On what the friends 
had witnessed at Poosie Nancy's that evening the Poet founded his 
cantata of " The Jolly Beggars." He read the poem to Richmond 
a few days after witnessing the scenes on which it is founded. 
Richmond was at this time rei)uted to be wild, heedless, and fond of 
company.* Consequent on an illicit amour which, in January 1785, 
brought him under the censure of the kirk-session, he obtempered 
the sentence of the court by appearing three separate Sundays as a 
penitent before the congregation.' Oppressed by the affront, he, at 
the close of his apprenticeship in November 1785, left the place and 

* William Patrick's JiecolUttioHS. Sec Jtobat Bunu at Mougitt^ bj William Jollj-, 
r.R.S.K., 1881, p. 7J. 

* Mauchlinc Kirk-iicasiou Register. 


removed to Edinburgh. For three months thereafter he ceased to 
communicate with his friends at Mauchline, and when afterwards 
the Poet received a letter from him, he ascribed his silence to his 
inauspicious fortune. To his letter the Poet replied in these 
terms : — 

MossGiEL, VI th February 1786. 
My Dear Sir, — I have not time at present to upbraid you for your silence 
and neglect; I shall only say I received yours with great pleasure. I have 
enclosed you a piece of rhyming ware for your perusal, I have been very busy 
Avith the Muses since I saw you, and have composed, among several others, 
" The Ordination," a poem on Mr. M'Kinlay's being called to Kilmarnock ; 
"Scotch Drink," a poem; "The Cotter's Saturday Night ; " an "Address to 
the Devil," etc. I have likewise completed my poem on the " Dogs," but have 
not shown it to the world. My chief patron now is Mr. Aiken in Ayr, who is 
pleased to express great approbafion of my works. Be so good as send me 
Fergusson,^ by Connel, and I will remit you the money. I have no news to 
acquaint you with about Mauchline ; they are just going on in the old way. I 
have some very important news with respect to myself, not the most agreeeable 
— news I am sure you cannot guess, but I shall give you the particulars another 
time. I am extremely happy with Smith ; he is the only friend I have now in 
Mauchline. I can scarcely forgive your long neglect of me, and I beg you will 
let me hear from you regularly by Connel. If you would act your part as a 
friend, I am sure neither good nor bad fortune should estrange or alter me. 
Excuse haste, as I got yours but yesterday. — I am, my dear sir, yours, 


In his next letter, dated Mossgiel, 9th July 1786, the Poet 
breathes a warmer friendship. His former associate had been an 
invalid, and he begins by sympathizing with him. He writes : — 

My Dear Friend, — With the sincerest grief I read your letter. You are 
truly a son of misfortune. I shall be extremely anxious to hear from you 
how your health goes on ; if it is any way re-establishing, or if Leith promises 
well ; in short, how you feel in the inner man. 

^ Robert Fergusson's Poems. 


After detiiiliiig some ephemerul g<>HHip, tuid referring to bis own 
negotiations with the Amiour family, and with the kirk-session of 
Mauehliue, he concludes by informing hira that his " book will be 
ready in a fortniglit." 

The Poet's next letter to Mr. Richmond is dated 30th July 1786, 
and is written from " Old Rome Forest," in the neigh bourhootl of 
Kihnarnock, where he was then visiting one of his relations. He 
begins : — 

Mt Dear Richmond, — My hour is now come— you and I will never meet 
in Britain more. I have orders within three weeks at farthest to repair aboard 

Iho Nayicy, CupUiin Smith, from Clyde to Jamaica, and to call at Antigua. 
Tliis, except to our frieutl Smith, wliom God long prcservo, is a secret about 

The Poet's intention of leaving the country was not realized, 
and when he set out for Edinburgh in quest of literary patronage, 
he resolved to share the lodgings of his friend. Arriving in 
Edinburgh on the 28th of November 1786, he found Richmond 
occupying a single apartment in Baxter's Close, Lawnmarket, for 
whicli he paid three sliillings weekly. As he agreed to receive the 
Poet as room companion, the friends lived together till the following 
May. When residing at Mossgiel in July 1787, the Poet was 
concerned to learn that Mr. Richmond's employer had paid the 
• lebt of nature, since his removal might injuriously affect his 
iViend's employment and finance. Writing to Richmond on the 7th 
July, lie expresses his desire to be informed as to the state of his 
affairs, and assures him of his warm friendship. Just a month after 
the date of his letter — that is, on the 7th of August — Burns returned 
to Edinburgh. His circumstances had become more prosperous, 
but he was willing as before to share the humble lodgings of his 
friend. But Mr. Richmond had got a new companion. 

From this period Rirlinmnd withdrew from the Poet's friend- 


ship, and the cause of his so doing has not been explained. When 
in his old age he was posed on the subject, he became fretful 
and impatient ; but it was remarked he would not allow a word 
to be uttered in his presence to the Poet's disadvantage ; and 
he emphatically certified that, when he was his room associate 
in the Lawnmarket, he kept regular hours, and was habitually 

After an absence of about four years, Eichmond returned to 
Mauchline, where he established himself as a writer or local 
attorney. To condone for that social indiscretion which had in- 
duced his departure from the place, he made a reparation fitting 
and honourable. On the 5th August 1791 he married Janet 
Sojourner, with whom he had formerly associated.^ Expert in 
business, and attentive to its concerns, he became prosperous. He 
died in 1846, in his eighty-first year.^ By his wife (who died in 
1836, aged seventy-six) he had a daughter, Janet, who married 
William Alexander, merchant in Mauchline. She died on the 
7th August 1868, leaving four sons and three daughters. John, 
the eldest son, emigrated to America, and there settled in Salt Lake 
City. James engaged in business in Glasgow, and there died. 
The two younger sons, Robert and William, have settled in 
Australia. Janet, the eldest daughter, is a widow. Jean and 
Margaret are resident in Australia. The elder brother of John 
Richmond, who succeeded to the lands of East Montgarswood, had 
a son Henry, who composed a satirical poem, which he printed 
privately. Henry Richmond married, with issue. 

1 Mauchline Parish Register. 2 Tombstone in Mauchline Churchyard. 


Geiivask I)K UiDDKL, H Nonimii hiiroii who accompanied David I. 
from Kiiglaiul, was by that sovereign conHtituteil Sheriff of 
Roxl)in^hsliire, als<j receiving hinds in the same county. Dying 
.il>uut tlio ywir 1 140, he left two sons, Walter and Anketil, of wliom 
the former obtained from David I. a charter of the lands of Lillies- 
leaf and others in the county of Roxburgh, which afterwartls became 
known as the Imrouy of Riddel. Walter was succeeded by his 
brother, who ia described as Sir Anketil de Riddel. This baron ha<l 
three sons, of whom Walter, the eldest, became his successor. In the 
barony of Riddel Walter was succeeded by his elder sou, Sir 
Patrick, whose elder son, Sir Williimi, swore fealty to Edwanl I. in 
l'J96. The representative of Edward's homager, John Riddel of 
Riddel, was, on the 14th of May 1G28, created a baronet by 
Charles I. He was father of Sir Walter, whose second son, 
William, an advocate at the Scottish Bar, acquired the lands of 
Friars Shaw in Teviotdale, and afterwards the estate of Glen- 
riddel. By his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Captain Francis 
Wauchope of the family of Niddry, he had a son, Walter, who, 
marrying Catherine, eldest daughter of Sir Robert Lawrie of 
Maxweltown, had a son, Robert, who 8ucceede<l to the lands. Among 
his descendants was Walter Riddel, who was by Prince Charles 
Edwtu'd taken cai)tive, along with Provost Crosby, as security for 
the levy laid on Dumfries by his troops during his retreat north- 
wiu'ds in December 1745. 

Captain Rol)ert Riddel of Glenriddel, a son of Walter, was 
noted as an antiquary, but is more especially remembered as a friend 
of the Poet. When Burns entered on the farm of Ellisland, 
Captain Ritldel — whose residence at Friara Carse was situated at a 



bend in the Nitli, within a mile's distance of the Poet's dwelling — 
extended to him an early attention. He furnished the Poet with a 
key to his grounds, which included a decorated cot or hermitage, 
which he had personally reared. In connexion with this structure, 
the Poet produced his well-known verses on Friars Carse 
Hermitage, commencing, " Thou whom chance may hither lead." 

In honour of the anniversary of Captain Riddel's wedding, on 
the 7th November 1788, the Poet composed these stanzas : — 

The day returns, my bosom burns, 

The blissful day we twa did meet, 
Tho' winter wild in tempest toil'd, 

Ne'er summer-sun was half sac sweet. 
Than a' the pride that loads the tide, 

And crosses o'er the sultry line ; 
Than kingly robes, than crowns and globes, 

Heav'n gave me more — it made thee mine ! 

While day and night can bring delight, 

Or Nature aught of pleasure give ; 
While joys above my mind can move, 

For thee, and thee alone I live. 
When that grim foe of life below 

Comes in between to make us part. 
The iron hand that breaks our band, 

It breaks my bliss — it breaks my heart ! 

For the use of his friend, the Poet soon afterwards prepared a 
manuscript book of poems and scraps, which forms the introduction 
to an abridgment of his first Commonplace Book. With this 
manuscript book of verses, Burns despatched to the laird of 
Glenriddel the following letter : — 

Ellisland, 1789. 
Siu, — I wish from my inmost soul it were in my power to give you a more 
substantial gratification and return for all your goodness to the poet, than tran- 


siril)ing a few of hi8 idlo rl»ymo«. Howovor, "an old wng," though to a proverb 
nil iiiHtaucts of insignificanco, Ih goncrnlly tho only coin a poot has to pay with. 

If my {XKiinH, which I huvo tmnttcritxHl, un<l nu.'an still to transcribe, into 
your I^x>k, were e()ual tu the gniteful retii»cct aiul }iigh esteem I hear for tho 
genth'inan to whom I present them, they would be the finest poems in the 
hingungo. As they are, thoy will at least 1h» a testimony with wliat sincerity 
T liiivi' tlin hnnor to In*, ^ir, v<>ur devote<1, ImmMf Mf-rvHiit. 

Tiic fuilowing lines, addressed by the Tout to Captain Jiiddel 
on returning a newspaper, seem to belong to the first year of tlieir 
;ic<niaint:in('»^ : — 

Your News nn«l Review, «ir, 

I've read through and through, sir, 
With little admiring or blaming ; 

The Papers are barren 

(3f home news or foreign. 
No murders or rapes worth the naming. 

Our friends, the Reviewers, 

. Those chipi>er8 and hewers, 

Are judges of mortar and stone, sir ; 

But of mett or unmeet, 

In a fabric complete, 
I'll boldly pronounce they are none, sir. 

My goose-quill too rude is 

To tell all your gooilness 
I-testow'd on your servant, the Poet ; 

"Would to God I had one 

Like a beam of the sun. 
And then all the world, sir, should know it ! 

Consequent on his intimacy with Captain Riddel, Burns com- 
posed his ballad of " The Whistle." That ballad commemorates a 
drinkinor niateli which, on the 1 6th October 1790, took place at 
Friars ( \>irsc l>otw«H'ii Sir Ro)>ort Tiawrie of Maxweltown, Mr. RiiMcI. 


and Mr. Alexander Ferguson of Craigdarrocli, for an ebony whistle 
which, according to tradition, had been brought to Scotland by a 
Danish gentleman in the train of Anne of Denmark. The terms 
laid down were that the combatants should drink bottle for bottle of 
claret with each other until victory declared itself by one of the 
number only remaining capable of sounding the whistle. On the 
decision of the umpire, Mr. John M'Murdo of Drumlanrig, Mr. 
Ferguson was declared the winner. In anticipation of the conflict, 
Burns addressed Captain Riddel, on the morning of the 16th, a 
jocose epistle commencing thus : — 

Big with the idea of this important day at Friars Carse, I have watched the 
elements and skies, in the full persuasion that they would announce it to the 
astonished world by some phenomena of terrific portent. Yesternight until a very 
late hour did I wait with anxious horror, for the appearance of some Comet firing 
half the sky, or aerial armies of sanguinary Scandinavians darting athwart the 
startled heavens, rapid as the ragged liglitning, and horrid as those convulsions 
of nature that bury nations. The elements, however, seem to take the matter 
very quietly : they did not even usher in this morning with triple suns and a 
shower of blood, symbolical of the three potent heroes and the mighty claret- 
shed of the day. For me, as Thomson in his " Winter" says of the storm, I 
shall " hear astonish'd, and astonish'd sing." 

*' The whistle and the man I sing ; 
The man that won the whistle," etc. 

While Sir John Sinclair was passing through the press the 
Statistical Account of Scotland, Captain Riddel embraced the 
opportunity of celebrating the Poet's exertions in the formation of 
a local library by communicating to Sir John the following letter : — 

I enclose you a letter written by Mr. Burns as an addition to the account of 
Dunscore Parish. It contains an account of a small library which he was so 
good (at my desire) as to set on foot in the barony of Monkland, or Friars 
Carse, in this parish. As its utility has been felt, particularly among the 


younger class of j^ooplo, I think thni if n similnr plan wore estaliliitliod in the 
(liffen'nt jwrislies of Scotland, it wouKi t«ntl jfrwilly to the «p«o(ly improvement 
of tlm tctmntry, tn»dos|K'op|«, tuxl W()rkp<M)phj. Mr. Hums was so gofMl as to 
tukti tlio wholu uliurgi! of this Humll concern. Ho wus treasurer, lihmrian, and 
censor to this little society, who will long have a grat«^ful senso of his public 
spirit and exertions for their improvement and information. 

Captain l^iddel's letter accompanied one written by the Poet, in 
tlie third volume of the Statistical Account. 

The amicable relations which .subsiHtcd l)etween Captain Riddel 
iikI the Poet were unhappily disturbed. Early in the year 1794, the 
( iiptain's ])rother, Mr. Walter Riddel, had l)een entertaining a party 
of friends at his residence of Woo<lley Park, when the gentlemen in 
a frolic invaded the drawing-room like a herd of siityrs, Bums on 
the occasion seizing Mrs. Riddel and kissing her. The act, strongly 
resented by the lady, also gave offence to her brother-in-law. Captain 
Riddel, who ceased to hold communication with the Bard ; and it is 
to be regretted that, though the Poet expressed in the strongest 
terms his regret for his breach of propriety, Captain Riddel passed 
away without having an opportunity of indicating his forgiveness. 
Nevertheless, Burns did not overlook his friend's former kindness, 
but, immediately subsequent to his death, honoured his memory by 
the following elecjiac stanzas : — 

No nion", ye warblers of the wood ! no more; 

Nor pour your descjint grating on my soul ; 

Thou young-eyed Spring, gay in thy verdant stole, 
More welcome wore to me grim Winter's wildest roor. 

How can ye charm, ye flowers, with all your dyes 1 
Ye blow upon the sod that wraps my friend ! 
How can I to the t<meful strain attend t 

TIi:tf sfru'n fluws Miiinl tljo untimely tomb w1i.t<' "RI'M"! !i«"j. 


Yes, pour, ye warblers ! pour the notes of woe, 
And soothe the Virtues weeping o'er his bier : 
The man of worth — and hath not left his peer ! — 

Is in his " narrow house," for ever darkly low. 

Thee, Spring ! again with joy shall others greet ; 
Me, memory of my loss will only meet. 

Captain Eiddel died on the 21st April 1794. 

A considerable musician, the laird of Glenriddel composed the 
airs to several of Burns's songs, including " The Banks of Nith," 
"The Whistle," "Nithdale's Welcome Home," "The Blue-eyed 
Lassie," and " The Day returns." He was notable as an antiquary. 
In " The Whistle " Burns styles him " the trusty Glenriddel, so 
versed in old coins." He published in the Arcliaeologia papers 
entitled " Account of the Ancient Lordship of Galloway, from the 
earliest period to the year 1455, when it was annexed to the 
Crown of Scotland," " Remarks on the Title of Thane and Ab thane," 
" Of the Ancient Modes of Fortification in Scotland," " On Vitrified 
Fortifications in Galloway," "Account of a Symbol of Ancient 
Investiture in Scotland," " Account of a Brass Vessel found near 
Dumfries in Scotland," and " Notices of Fonts in Scotland." 

Captain Riddel was husband of Elizabeth , an admirable 

woman, ^ who shared his tastes, and joined him in dispensing an elegant 
hospitality. " At their fireside," writes Burns, " I have enjoyed more 
pleasant evenings than at all the houses of fashionable people in 
this country put together ; and to their kindness and hospitality I 
am indebted for many of the happiest hours of my life." 

1 The Poet named his daughtor, born on the of the lady of Glenriddel. The child Elizabeth 
1st November 1792, Elizabeth Riddel, in honour Riddel died young. 



|)Ar(jiiTKii of Williuiii \\ uodlcy, Governor and Oonimaiider-in-chiff 
of 8t. KittH and of the Leeward IslandH, Maria Banks Womlley 
was a native of England, hi the West Lidies l)eeoniing acquainted 
witli Mr. Walter Riddel, a younger brother of Glenriddel, who 
had acquired an estate in Antigua, she at an early age became his 
wife. Returning to Great Britain in 1791, Mr. Riddel purchased a 
handsome mansion, surrounded with a small estate, al)out four miles 
to the south of Dumfries. Under the name of '*The Holm," the 
l>lace was the country residence of Andrew Crosbie, the eminent 
advocate and reputed prototype of Counsellor Pleydell in Gu]f 
Maimeinng. Afterwards purchased by a gentleman named Goldie, 
lie called it "Goldielea" after his own name and that of his wife, 
Leigh, she being a descendant of that notable English family. On 
ac(|uiring the property from Mr. Goldie, Mr. Riddel changed its 
name to '* Woodley Park," in honour of his wife ; but, as the estate 
reverted to Mr. Goldie on the non-payment of the purchase-money, 
it regained the appellative of " Goldielea," by which it is at present 

A wife and mother under twenty, Mrs. Maria Riddel evinced a 
strong literary aptitude, and, with her husband, cultivated the 
society of men of talent. Among the favoured visitors at Woodley 
Park was the Poet, who was personally charmed with Mrs. Riddel's 
literary tastes as well as her jiersonal l>eauty. She composed elegant 
\ orses, which she unobtrusively submitted to the Poet's revision ; 
while from the stores of her well-selected library the Bard added to 
his acquaintance with the English classics, also with the best authors 
of France and Italy. 

At an early stage of their acquaintance Mrs. Riddel informed 


the Poet of her desire to present to the public some sketches of 
natural history which she had prepared in the narrative of a voyage 
to Madeira and the Leeward Islands, and with that view begged 
him to introduce her to his friend Mr. Smellie. Complying with 
her wish, the Poet made her known to Mr. Smellie by a letter dated 
Dumfries, 22nd January 1792. In that letter he wrote thus : — 

Mrs. Riddel, who Avill take this letter to town with her, and send it to you, 
is a character that, even in jour own way, as a naturalist and a philosopher, 
would be an acquisition to your acquaintance. The lady, too, is a votary of 
the Muses ; and, as I think myself somewhat of a judge in my own trade, I 
assure you that her verses, always correct, and often elegant, are much beyond 
the common run of the ladij imetesses of the day. She is a great admirer of 
your book \Th(i Philoso;i)hy of Natural Hidori/] ; and hearing me say that I 
was acquainted with you, she begged to be known to you, as she is just going 
to pay her first visit to our Caledonian capital. 

The Poet adds :— 

In appreciating the lady's merits, she has one unlucky failing — a failing 
which you will easily discover, as she seems rather pleased with indulging in it ; 
and a failing that you will easily pardon, as it is a sin which very much 
besets yourself,— where she dislikes or despises, she is apt to make no more a 
secret of it than where she esteems and respects. 

Mr. Smellie read Mrs. Riddel's manuscript with much interest, 
as appears in a letter which he addressed to her on the 27th 
March. He writes : — 

When I considered your youth, and still more your sex, the perusal of your 
ingenious and judicious work, if I had not previously had the pleasure of your 
conversation, the devil himself could not have frightened me into the belief that 
a female human creature could, in the bloom of youth, beauty, and consequently 
of giddiness, have produced a performance so much out of the line of your 
ladies' works. Smart little poems, flippant romances, are not uncommon ; but 


Hcience, niinuto observation, accuroto ilcscription, and excollont oompotition aiv 
quolitiiw seldom to bo met with in the female world. 

From Mr. Smellie's printing-prewj Mrs. Riddel's work appeared 
ill October under the following title, Voyages to the Madeira and 
Leeward Carihee Islands ; ivith Sketches of the Natural History of 

these Islands. By Maria R . The naturalist-printer, visiting 

Dumfries not long afterwards, was entertained by Mrs. Riddel and 
lier husband at their liospitiible residence. 

In November 1792, when Mrs. Riddel was about to iMispeak a 
i)lay at the theatre, the Poet addressed her in the following 
terms : — 

I am lliinkiiiy to s(>iul luy "Address" to some jMiriodical publication, but it 
has not got your sanction : so pray look over it. 

As to Tuesday's play, let me beg of you, my dear mailam — let me beg of you 
to give us "The Wondor, a Woman keeps a Secret;" to which please add "The 
Spoilt Child." You will highly oblige me by so doing. 

Ah, what an enviable creature you are ! There now, this cursed gloomy 
blue-devil day, you are going to a party of choice spirits 

" To play the sha|X» 
Of frolic fancy, and incessant fonn 
Tliosc rapid pictures, that assembled train 
Of fleet ideas, never joined before. 
Where lively Wit excites to gay surprise ; 
Or folly-paintuig Humour, grave himself. 
Calls laughter forth, deep shaking every nerve." 

But as you rejoice with them that do rejoice, do also remember to weep with 
them that weep, and pity your melancholy friend, R. B. 

In April 1793 the Poet composed in Mrs. Riddel's honour the 
song commencing "The last time I came o'er the moor," a com- 
position which has been censured for its more than ix)etic fer\^our. 



During the same year he addressed Mrs. Riddel in the following 
epigram : — 

" Praise woman still," his lordship roars,^ 

" Deserv'd or not, no matter ! " 
But thee, whom all my soul adores, 

Ev'n flattery cannot flatter : 
Maria, all my thought and dream, 

Inspires my vocal shell ; 
The more I praise my lovely theme, 

The more the truth I tell. 

The anniversary of Mrs. Riddel's birthday on the 4th November 
1793 he celebrated in these lines : — 

Old Winter, with his frosty beard, 
Thus once to Jove his prayer preferred : 
" What have I done of all the year. 
To bear this hated doom severe % 
My cheerless suns no pleasure know ; 
Night's horrid car drags dreary slow ; 
My dismal months no joys are crowning, 
But spleeny English hanging, drowning. 

" Now, Jove, for once be mighty civil, 
To counterbalance all this evil ; 
Give me, and I've no more to say, — 
Give me Maria's natal day : 
That brilliant gift shall so enrich me. 
Spring, Summer, Autumn cannot match me." 
" 'Tis done ! " says Jove ; so ends my story, 
And Winter once rejoiced in glory. 

^ These lines were first published in the that Loi-d Buchan in an argument vociferated 

liibrary edition of Burns's Works, vol. iii. that women must always be flattered grossly or 

164. The editor remarks that an endorsation not praised at all, whereupon Burns pencilled 

on the manuscript explains that some one, in these lines on a slip of paper, which he handed 

presence of Mrs. Riddel, had informed the Poet to the lady. 


From the spring of 1793 till the beginning of the following year 
Mr. Walter RitUlel was alwcnt in the West Indies. In Novemben 
^Irs. Riildel thus communicated with Mr. Smcllie : — 

I am 08 chaste and domestic, but iMrhaps not quite so industrious, as 
Penelo{)o in the absence of her hero. I resemble rather the lilies of the field : 
** I toil not, neither do I spin ; " but I rcatl, I write, I sing, and contrive to wile 
away the time as pleasantly as any sociable being like myself can do in a state 
of solitude and in some measure of mortification. .1 shall write you more 
fully in my next as to the nature of my present pursuits, and how I found 
Burns nnd the other friends here you loft bchuid, for they were not few, I 
assure you. 

Though unable to indulge the society of the Poet during the 
absence of her husband, Mrs. Riddel felt justified in asking him to 
accompany her to the theatre at Dumfries. Some time in November 
1793 he reciprocated her attention in the following letter: — 

Dear Madam,- -I meant to have called un you yesternight, but as I edged 
up to your box-door^ the first object which greeted my view, was one of thoee 
lobster - coated puppies, sitting like another dragon, guarding the Hesperian 
fruit. On the conditions and capitulations you so obligingly offer, I shall 
certainly make my weather-beaten rustic phiz a part of your box-furniture on 
Tuesday ; when we may arrange the business of the visit. 

Among the profusion of idle compliments, which insidious craft, or un- 
meaning folly, incessantly offer at your shrine — a shrine, how far exalted above 
such adoration — permit me, were it but for rarity's sake, to pay you tiie honest 
tribute of a warm heart and an indejMjndent mind ; and to assure you that I am, 
thou most amiable and most accomplished of thy sex, with the most respectful 
esteem, and fervent regard, thine, etc, B. R 

Early in 1794 Mr. Riddel returned from the West Indies, and 
proceeded to celebrate his arrival by a symposium at his residence. 
Encouraged by their host, the guests drank heavily, and as a matter 


of frolic invaded the drawing-room like a herd of satyrs. Each 
laid hold of a lady in a sort of miniature Rape of the Sabines, 
while the Poet seized and saluted the hostess, a woman " who," as 
Dr. Robert Chambers writes, " Ae in his ordinary moments regarded 
as a divinity not to be too rashly approached." Mrs. Riddel was 
deeply offended, nor did a letter from the Poet, despatched to her 
immediately afterwards, and conceived in the strongest terms of 
self-reproach, allay the bitterness of her resentment. Unhappily, 
the Poet, instead of continuing his expressions of contrition and 
exhausting every means of reconciliation, was led through wounded 
pride to pour forth against the lady and her husband a series of 
lampoons and epigrams. Ere the quarrel had attained its height, 
we find him addressing Mrs. Riddel in the two following 
letters : — 

Dumfries, 1794. 

Madam, — I return your Commonplace Book. I have perused it with much 
pleasure, and would have continued my criticisms, but as it seems the critic has 
forfeited your esteem, his strictures must lose their value. 

If it is true that " offences come only from the heart," before you I am 
guiltless. To admire, esteem, and prize you as the most accomplished of 
women, and the first of friends — if these are crimes, I am the most offending 
thing alive. 

In a face where I used to meet the kind complacency of friendly confidence, 
now to find cold neglect and contemptuous scorn, is a wrench that my heart can 
ill bear. It is, however, some kind of miserable good-luck, that while de-haut- 
en-bas rigour may depress an unoffending wretch to the ground, it has a tendency 
to rouse a stubborn something in his bosom, which, though it cannot heal the 
wounds of his soul, is at least an opiate to blunt their poignancy. 

"With the profoundest respect for your abilities; the most sincere esteem 
and ardent regard for your gentle heart and amiable manners ; and the most 
fervent wish and prayer for your welfare, peace, and bliss, I have the honor to 
be, madam, your most devoted, humble servant, Eobt. Burns. 


DoMnun, 1794. 

I havo tUis very inomont got the song from Symo, and I am sorry to see 
that ho has spoilt it a good deal. It shall be a lesson to me how I lend him 
anything again. 

I havo Hcnt you Werter ; truly happy to have any, the smallest opportunity 
of obliging you. 

'Tis true, iiiadaiu, 1 saw you onco since I was at W P ; and that 

onco froze the very lifu-bluod of my heart. Your reception of me was aach, 
that a wretch mooting tlie eye of his Judge, about to pronounce sentence of 
death on him, could only have envied my feelings and situation. But I hate 
the theme, and never mort^ shall write or speak of it. 

One thing I shall proudly say, that I can pay Mrs. R a higher tribute of 
esteem, and appreciate her amiable wortli more truly than any man whom I 
have seen approach her; nor will I yield the pati to any man living, in 
subscribing myself with the sincerost truth, her devoted, humble servant 

R. B. 

When the Poet began to relent in his severities towards his 
former friends, he, as a conciliatory offering, addressed Mrs. Riddel 
in his lines, beginning, " Young Jamie, pride of a' the plain." 
And, in the further hope of allaying her resentment, he addressed 
to her the song beginning, " Canst thou leave me thus, my Katie? " 
which, it is understood, Mrs. Riddel acknowledged by despatching 
to the writer the following vei-ses : — 

Stay, my Willie, yet believe me ; 

Stay, my Willie, yet believe me ; 

For, ah ! thou know'st na every pang 

Wad wring my bosom should'st thou leave me. 

Tell me that thou yet art true, 

And a* my WRings shall bo forgiven ; 
And when this heart proves fause to thee, 

You sun shall cease its course in heaven. 


But to think I was betrayed, 

That falsehood e'er our loves should sunder ! 

To take the flow'ret to my breast, 
And find the guilefu' serpent under. 

Could I hope thou'dst ne'er deceive, 

Celestial pleasures, might I choose 'em, 
I'd slight, nor seek in other spheres 

That heaven I'd find within thy bosom. 

Stay, my Willie, yet believe me ; 

Stay, my "Willie, yet believe me ; 

For, ah ! thou know'st na every pang 

Wad wring my bosom should'st thou leave me. 

In March 1795 the Poet addressed Mrs. Riddel in the following 
letter : — 

Mr. Burns's compliments to Mrs. Riddel — is much obliged to her for her 
polite attention in sending him the book. Owing to Mr. B. being at present 
acting as Supervisor of Excise, a department that occupies his every hour of the 
day, he has not that time to spare which is necessary for any helle-lettre pursuit ; 
but, as he will in a week or two again return to his wonted leisure, he will then 
pay that attention to Mrs. R.'s beautiful song, *' To thee, lov'd Nith," which it 
so well deserves. 

When Anacharsis' Travels come to hand, which Mrs. Riddel mentioned as 
her gift to the public library, Mr. B. will thank her for a reading of it, previous 
to her sending it to the library, as it is a book he has never seen, and he wishes 
to have a longer perusal than the regulations of the library allow. 

Friday Eve. 

P.S. — Mr. Burns will be much obliged to Mrs. Riddel if she will favor him 
with a perusal of any of her poetical pieces which he may not have seen. 
Dumfries, 1795. 

The correspondence was now re-established, as appears from 
various letters addressed to Mrs. Riddel, and included in the Poet's 


works, but it is to be romarked that the Bard commences his several 
communications with "Madam," instead of the "Dear Madam" and 
' My Dear Madam" of former times. In a letter to Mrs. Riddel, 
dated the 29th of January 1796, the Poet remarks: "The health 
you wished mc in your morning's card is, I think, thrown from me 
for ever. I have not l>een able to leave my bed to-day till an hour 
ago." ... 

The Poet's last letter to Mrs. Riddel is dated the 4th of June 
1796 ; it proceeds thus : — 

I am in such miserable health as to be incapable of showing my loyalty in any 
May. Racked as I am with rheumatisms, I meet every face with a greeting like 
that of Bulak to Balaam. " Come, curse me Jacob j and come, defy me Israel ! " 
so say I : Como, curse me that cast wind ; and come, defy mo the north i 
Would you have me in such circumstances copy you out a love-song 1 

I may perhaps see you on Satunluy, but I will not be at the ball ^Vhy 
should I ? " Man delights not mo, nor woman either ! " Can you supply me 
with the song, " Let us all be unhappy together ? " Do, if you can, and oblige 
le pauvre inWralAe. R. B. 

When, in July, Mrs. Riddel, on a visit to Brow, learned that the 
Poet had arrived there in a feeble condition, she invited him to 
dinner, and sent her carriage to convey him to her house. In 
reference to the occasion Mrs. Riddel afterwards wrote thus : — 

1 was struck with his appearance on entering the room. The stamp of 
death was imprinted on his features. He seemed already touching the brink of 
eternity. His first salutation was : " "Well, madam, have you any commands 
for the other world 1 " I replied, that it seemed a doubtful case which of ua 
sliould be there soonest, and that I hoped he woulil yet live to write my epitaplu 
He looked in my face with an air of great kindness, and expressed his concern 
at seeing mo look so ill, with his accustomed sensibility. At table, he ate little 
or nothing, and he complained of having entirely lost the tone of his stomach. 
Wo had a long and serious conversation about his present situation, and the 
approaching termination of all his earthly prospects. He spoke of his death 


without any of the ostentation of philosophy, but with firmness, as well as 
feeling, as an event likely to happen very soon, and which gave him concern 
chiefly from leaving his four children so young and unprotected, and his wife in 
so interesting a situation — in hourly expectation of lying in of a fifth. He 
mentioned, with seeming pride and satisfaction, the promising genius of his 
eldest son, and the flattering marks of approbation he had received from his 
teachers, and dwelt particularly on his hopes of that boy's future conduct and 
merit. His anxiety for his family seemed to hang heavy upon him, and 
the more perhaps from the reflection, that he had not done them all the justice 
he was so well qualified to do. Passing from this subject, he showed great 
concern about the care of his literary fame, and particularly the publication of 
his posthumous works. He said he was well aware that his death would 
occasion some noise, and that every scrap of his writing would be revived 
against him to the injury of his future reputation : that letters and verses 
written with unguarded and improper freedom, and which he earnestly wished 
to have buried in oblivion, would be handed about by idle vanity or male- 
volence, when no dread of his resentment would restrain them, or prevent the 
censures of shrill-tonged malice, or the insidious sarcasms of envy, from pouring 
forth all their venom to blast his fame. 

He lamented that he had written many epigrams on persons against whom 
he entertained no enmity, and whose characters he should be sorry to wound ; 
and many indifferent poetical pieces, which he feared would now, with all their 
imperfections on their head, be thrust upon the world. On this account, he 
deeply regretted having deferred to put his papers in a state of arrangement, as 
he was now quite incapable of the exertion. 

The conversation was kept up with great evenness and animation on his side. 
I had seldom seen his mind greater or more collected. There was frequently a 
considerable degree of vivacity in his sallies, and they would probably have had 
a greater share, had not the concern and dejection I could not disguise, damped 
the spirit of pleasantry he seemed not unwilling to indulge. 

We parted about sunset on the evening of that day (the 5th July 1796); 
the next day I saw him again, and we parted to meet no more ! 

Mrs. Eiddel's admirable and elegantly composed sketch of the 
Poet, dated 7th August 1796, we have noticed elsewhere ; it is alike 
creditable to her native goodness and her literary skill. In reference 


to licr friend's genius, she Htrongly affirms "that poctrj' wn» actually 
not \]\&fovte\ and that certainly none ever out«honc him in the 
( Imrnia— the sorcery ... of fiuscinating conversation." 

On the death of his brother Uobert, in 1794, Mr. Walter Riddel 
.>>iicceeded to the estate of Glenriddel, but not long afterwards he 
was under the necessity of relinquishing lx)th Friars Cane and 
W'oodley Park. He died about the close of the century, when Mrs. 
IJiddcl. with a son and daughter, removed to England. For a time 
she resided in apartments at Hampton Court, where died, in 1 804, 
her only son, Alexander. Her daughter, Anna Maria, married Mr. 

Walker, whose son, Mr. Arthur do Nnc Wnlkf r. now practises 

as a physician in London. 

Mrs. Riddel married, secondly, in 1807, Phillipps Lloyd Fletcher, 
a gentleman of property in Wales, but she survived the union only 
eight months. Her remains were deposited in her husband's family 
vault at Chester. 

Besides her volume on Madeira and the Leeward Islands, Mre. 
Riddel contributed sixteen compositions in verse to a work issued 
at London in 1803, entitled The. Metincal Miscellany, consisting 
tliieHy of poems, hitherto unpublishe<l. This work has become 
extremely rare, but a copy is to be found in the Mitchell Library, 


In the parish churchyard of Kirkoswald a plain tombstone com- 
memorates John Roger, who died on the 23rd of January 1749, 
aged eighty, also his wife, Mary Bodan, who died on the 3rd March 
1736, at the age of fifty. The spouses so commemorated rented the 

VOL. II. 2 A 


farm of Thomaston Mill in Kirkoswald parish. They had several 
children, one of whom, Hugh, was baptized on the 2nd January 

Early inclined to the acquisition of knowledge, Hugh Koger was 
his own instructor ; he formed his letters and afterwards his figures 
on the sea-beach, which adjoined his father's farm. One day, as he 
was so improving himself, a gentleman who was passing remarked 
his industry, and encouraged him to persevere, a stimulus which, as 
he afterwards related, materially fortified his energy. When in his 
early manhood a vacancy occurred in the office of parish school- 
master, he was preferred to the appointment ; and he afterwards 
added to his scanty revenues by acting as a land-surveyor, and 
giving private instruction in the higher mathematics. Latterly he 
attained distinction as an instructor, and consequently the sons of 
persons of rank were boarded in his family. Among those of his 
pupils who attained eminence were the Poet, Sir Gilbert Blane, 
Bart., the distinguished physician, and Sir Andrew Cathcart, Bart., 
of Carleton. During his early incumbency, Mr. Roger lacked 
official premises, the school being a small apartment, leased by the 
heritors for one guinea of annual rent, while the schoolmaster 
accommodated himself in a cottage of two apartments, with small 
attics. In the " ben " house, or parlour of the latter, Burns was 
insti-ucted in mensuration and geometry during the summer of 1776. 

In the management of his boarding establishment Mr. Roger 
derived important assistance from his wife, a woman of superior 
intelligence. By name Helen M'William, her father rented the 
farm of Shennas, in the parish of Ballantrae. Thrown by his 
early death into a condition of dependence, she acted as a domestic 
servant, first in the manse of Kirkoswald, and subsequently in the 
family of Craufurd at Ardmillan House. She became known to her 

^ Kirkoswald Parish Register. 


future husband wlicn serving in the manse, but she was won not 
witliout difticulty, and after a correspondence considerably protracted. 
Iler suitor'H letters have l>ccn preserved, and are of curious interest, 
iiiasmucli as, while the handwriting is graceful and exact, the ortho- 
s^raphy is extremely defective. After the day of union had l^ecn 
fixed, Hugh, writing to his fiancee on the 7th of May 1757, advises 
that the marriage should Ije conducted privately, since, "as she 
was senseable enough " to know, " the preperation " of a public 
we»l<liiig would Imj attended with an inconvenient outlay, as both 
of them were " depraved of parents," and provisions were ** extreenily 
dear." To her lover's suggestion Helen cordially assented ; but 
while the wedding was on the 21st of July solemnized privately at 
Ardmillan House, the laird and his sister. Miss Craufurd, served as 
man and maid to the bridegroom and bride. 

Of the marriafxc of Hugh Roger and Helen M'Williani were Ijorn 
nine children, six of whom died in childhood. The survivors wf iv 
Thomas, Matthew, and Jean. 

Thomas, born in June 1758, studied medicine, and was appointed 
physician on board the Sihijl, a ship in the Royal Navy. He died 
at sea on the 12th November 1782, at the age of twenty-four.' 

Matthew, born 19th November 1767, became factor to the first 
Marquis of Ailsa ; he died 2nd August 1834, at the age of sixty- 

Jean, born 2nd March 1763, married, 29th July 1790,' John 
Niven, lessee of Ballochneil farm, Kirkoswald ; she died on the 17th 
January 1847, leaving issue. 

Hugh Roger died in May 1797, aged seventy-one ; his wife, 
Helen M* William, on the 24th January 1822, at the age of ninety- 

' Tomlwtono in Kirkoswalil ChurchyAid. * Ibid. 

' Kirkoswalil rarish Register. * Tombstone in Kirkoswald ChurchTanL 



John Russell was born in Morayshire in the year 1740. With a 
view to the ministry he prosecuted theological studies, and on the 
21st June 1768 was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of 
Chanonry. Meanwhile he adopted a course which, at this period, 
was common to ministerial expectants, by engaging in the work of 
pubUc teaching. Enjoying a high reputation as a classical and 
general scholar, he was preferred to the office of schoolmaster of the 
town and parish of Cromarty, a post attended with considerable 
emolument. In connexion with his scholastic labours at Cromarty 
we have derived some interesting particulars from the MS. of a 
work, entitled Memorabilia Domestica, 1694-1819, composed by 
the Rev. Donald Sage, minister of Resolis, and lately published in 
an abridged form. Mr. Sage writes : — 

^ly father, Alexander Sage, afterwards minister of Kildonan, Lorn at Loch- 
carron in 1753, was, after acquiring the rudiments of knowledge under the 
paternal roof, sent to the school of Cromarty. The teacher, Mr. John Russell, 
was a man of great worth, and an expert scholar. The gentry, the clergy, and 
tlie upper class of tenants in the shires of Ross, Cromarty, and Inverness sent 
their sons to his school. His method of teaching had not perhaps the polished 
surface of those systems which are most approved of now, but it was minute, 
careful, and substantial. In the elementary rules his pupils received training 
they could never afterwards forget. My father could at the age of seventy 
repeat the construction rules of Ruddiman's Rudiments, and the rules of "Watt's 
Grammar, with all the accuracy and promptness with which he had expressed 
them with the fear of Mr. John Russell before his eyes. When Mr. Russell's 
pupils began to read Latin, they were taught to speak the language also. In 
the more advanced classes, not a word in the school dared any one to address to 
the teacher or to each other but in Latin, and thus they were made familiar 
with the language. Mr. Russell was a most uncompromising disciplinarian. 
The dread of his discipline was felt, and its salutary exorcise extended not only 


witliiii till! four ((unciH df tlic HchoolrooTii, hut ovrr tlio length ami brcailtli (»f 
th(! piiriHh. Th»3 trifler within the school on week dftyf, tlie Hauutering thought- 
loss lounger on the streets or on tho links of Cromarty on the Sabbath dayH, 
had that instinctive termr of Mr. Russell that the Wasta ore said to have of tho 
lion. The truant quailing under his glance Ijotook himself to his lesson, the 
sauntercr on tho links, at tho first blink of him on the braohead, returned home. 
In connection with this {Xircmptoriness ^fr. Russell was a man of vital piety.* 

By Dr. Hew Scott, in his Fasti, Mr. Russell is dcscrilxjcl a.s 
having, prior to his becoming parish schoolmaster of Cromarty, been 
employed as tutor in the family of Mr. Charles Grant, aftenvards of 
the East India Company.' On this statement Mr. Sage reflects import- 
ant light, — since he intimates that Charles Grant was Mr. Russell's 
pupil at Cromarty school. According to Mr. Sage, Grant wa« shop- 
keeper to William Forsyth, a grocer in Cromarty, and wtis, con- 
sequent on his desire for knowledge, allowed by his employer to 
attend Mr. Russell's school. The knowledge which Mr. Grant so 
received largely availed him, for, having in 17G7 proceeded to India 
in some humble capacity, he rose step by step, until in 1794 he was 
elected a Director of the East India Company. Subsequently he 
was aj)pointed chairman of the Court of Directoi*s ; he also l)ecamc 
rarliamentary representative of the county of Inverness. Mr. 
Grant was noted for his vital piety, and for the zeal with which ho 
sought to atlvance the cause of Christianity in the East. His son. 
Sir Robert Grant, who inherited his ability, was also imbued with a 
becoming sense of religion ; he is the well - known author of the 
three exquisite hymns beginning, ** When gathering clouds around 
I view," *' worship the King, all glorious above," and " Siiviour, 
whose mercy severe in its kindness." And it is not unreasonable to 
conclude that the grocer's assistant of Cromarty may, wliile acquiring 
at Mr. Russell's school the elements of secular learning, have also 

» Mtmorabilia Doiiustica, ilS., vol. L p. 76. * Fasti Bed, S<Mt.xi. 177. 


imbibed a portion of his religious fervour, and the rudiments of 
that piety which shone in his own life, and was reflected upon 
his son. 

In his Memorabilia Mr. Sage describes Mr. Russell as "a 
preacher of great power," and it was doubtless on account of his 
reputation as an expounder of divine truth that, on a vacancy 
occurring in the New or High Church of Kilmarnock, consequent on 
the translation of Mr. James Oliphant, its first minister, to another 
parish, he was by the voice of the people called to that charge. 
He was ordained to the office on the 30th March 1774, at the 
mature age of thirty-four. 

With his deep religious sense and doctrinal earnestness, Mr. 
Russell must at Kilmarnock have at once been involved in strange 
antipathies. In his northern home he had encountered much 
practical infidelity, much levity and Sabbath-breaking. But there 
was no prevailing heterodoxy — the clergy, whether energetic or 
indolent, gave forth in their teaching no uncertain sound. Excep- 
tions there certainly were, but these were so rare as to justify the 
observation that the rule was on the other side. In northern 
pulpits was preached a sound evangelism ; in western Scotland in 
1774, and some time subsequently, there prevailed among the clergy 
a blighting secularity. 

Ayrshire has indeed, more than any other Scottish province, 
been the arena of religious heavings. Ere had been formulated 
against the doctrinal errors of the Romish Church any special 
system, the Lollards of Kyle, in the fifteenth century, contended 
for a pure faith. Some of the earlier and more prominent lay 
converts to Protestant doctrine in Scotland were Ayrshire noblemen, 
such as the Earls of Glencairn and Cassilis, together with such land- 
owners as Campbell of Kinzeancleuch, Lockhart of Barr, and Wallace 
of Cairnhill. And when George Wishart, the future martyr, was 


prosecuting his labours as an evangelist, he found in Ayrshire a 
prevailing desire to receive and profit by his d(x;trinal teaching. 
And tlic religious earnestness which in Ayrshire arose with the 
Lollards, and was renewed at the Reformation, continued up to the 
close of the seventeenth century to distinguish the province as the 
scene of an enlightened faith. During the Covenanting struggles of 
the seventeenth century, Ayrshire was remarkable for the numlx;r of 
its confessors, the religious history of the age being largely l30un<l 
up with the annals of its martyrs. Nor in Ayrshire had in the 
eighteenth century the religious heavings of a former period wholly 
ceased. The practice which had arisen during the Stuart persecu- 
tion, of quitting the episcopally served churches, and of flocking to 
the tents of deprived Presbyterian preachers, developed subsequent to 
the Revolution into the habit of frequenting the communion services 
in convenient centres. And in Ayrshire, to a greater extent than in 
any other county, did sacramental tent preaching prevail at the 
time when Mr. Russell entered at Kilmarnock on the ministerial 
office. But the bulk of the clergy, while necessarily conforming to 
the popular demand for lengthened communion services, had adopted 
views wholly antagonistic to the fervent faith of previous times. 
They preached the doctrines of Socinus. Denying the existence of 
original sin — that is, ignoring the Temptation and its eftects — and 
holding the devil as a myth, they could propose no remedy to a 
degraded humanity other than the cold doctrine of an impossible 
self-sacrifice. In their creed no place was found for the atonement. 
They accepted Christ as a Saviour only in reference to His example, 
and the self-denying character of His life. And this system they 
set forth as the New Light, in contradistinction to that Old Light 
embodied in the Church's standards and *' Confession." 

Strongly opposing the New Light or Rationalistic system, Mr. 
Russell upheld the evangelical teaching of the old times with an 


apostolic earnestness. With indignation contemplating the progress 
of a system of teaching which was sapping the foundations of scrip- 
tural truth, he stood forth as the champion of that faith on which 
the Scottish Church had been reared at the Keformation. He spoke 
loudly,, and wherever he was privileged to preach, whether in the 
l)ulpit, in the tent, or on the hillside, his voice rang forth the 
precious doctrine of salvation through grace. 

At Kilmarnock Mr. Kussell had for about ten years been noted as 
an earnest and vigorous upholder of " the Auld Light," when Burns, 
at the age of twenty -five, came upon the field. Burns had at Irvine 
three years previously become a member of the Church, and under 
deep convictions had composed his " Prayer in the Prospect of 
Death," while his "Cotter's Saturday Night" belongs to 1785, the 
same year in which Mr. Russell first appears in his verses. 

In his doctrinal views Burns was wholly opposed to Mr. Russell. 
Like one in intellectual power akin to him, — we mean Thomas 
Carlyle, — he abhorred pretentiousness, while also, Carlyle-like, he 
was prone to suspect cant, where existed the truth only. He also 
accepted the teaching of the New Light school, inasmuch as, while 
not liable to any charge of fanaticism, the professors evinced an 
easy secularity. There was a further consideration : the poet's father, 
William Burnes, a most pious and exemplary man, had composed 
for the use of his sons a manual of religious belief, in which, while 
he sought to soften the rigidity of Calvinistic doctrine, he uncon- 
sciously gave a measure of sanction to New Light doctrine. Thus 
actuated, the Poet came to believe that those who adhered to the 
doctrines of the Scottish Confession were retarding the progress of 
thought, and clothing in a dark repellent garb the religion of love. 

Burns therefore assailed the Old Light doctrine, and against its 
more zealous upholders cast from his sarcastic bow the keenest 
arrows. Conspicuous as he was, Mr. Russell might not escape. In 


liis ** Twa Hords; or, the Holy Tulyio," comiwsed in 1784, the Poet 
<loi)i('ts .1 presbytcrial controversy in these lines: — 

TIjo twft best honls in ft' tlio \va«t, 
Thftt e'er ga'e gospel horn a blast, 
These five and twenty simmers |)ast, 

Oh, dool to tell ! 
Ifac bad I bitter black out-cast 

Atwcen themsel. 

() Moodie, man, an' wonly Russell, 
How could you raise so vile a bustle ; 

The Poet adds, in romplinu'utuiy stniin : — 

What hcrtl like Russell tell'd his tale. 
His voice was honrtl thro' nniir and dale. 

When, in 1784, John Goldic, a Kilmarnock shopkeeper, reprinted 
ills work in three octavo volumes, in which he freely discussed the 
authority of the Scriptures, Bums composed on the occasion a 
ihyming epistle, in which he represents Mr. Russell as one whose 
teaching Goldie's work was destined to overthrow. Next, in " The 
Ordination," a poem composed in 1786, the Poet represents the 
New Light system under the figure of Common Sense, while Mr. 
Russell and Mr. Oliphant, his predecessor in tlie New Church, are 
represented as its foes :— 

Oliphant aft made her yell, 
An' Russell sair misca'd her. 

In the ** Holy Fair," the Pcx't refers to Mr. Russell in these 
verses: — 

But now the Lorvl's ain tnnnpet tout«i. 

Till a' the hills arc mirin*. 
And echoes back return the shouts ; 
Black Russell is na spairin* : 
VOL II. 2 B 


His piercin' words, like Highlan' swords, 

Divide the joints and marrow ; 
His talk o' hell, whare devils dwell, 

Our vera " saiils does harrow " 

Wi' fright that day. 

The Poet's ballad of " The Kirk of Scotland's Alarm," in which 
Mr. Russell is next introduced, belongs to 1789, when its author had 
become famous. This ballad has reference to an inquiry as to the 
soundness of a discourse on the death of Christ, published by 
Dr. William M'Gill, one of the ministers of Ayr, the doctrine of 
which Mr. Russell had gravely impugned. Alluding to Mr. Russell 

the Poet writes : — 

Eumble John ! Kumble John, 
Mount the steps with a groan, 
Cry " The book is with heresy cramm'd ; " 
Then ovit wi' your ladle. 
Deal brimstone like aidle, 
And roar ev'ry note of the damn'd, 

Rumble John ! 
And roar ev'ry note of the damn'd. 

Here there is irreverent invective, but which fails to strike the 
subject of it, inasmuch as the preacher was offensive to the Poet, 
not on account of any doctrinal defection, but because of his strong 
adherence to his principles. In his mode of expounding divine 
truth — in his manner of holding up the Old Light standard, Mr. 
Russell used words plain and forcible. Strict in maintaining order in 
the schoolroom, he was rigid in upholding orthodoxy in the Church. 
And it was well, since the secularizing clergy were obscuring the light' 
of former times, and were inducing their hearers to walk with them 
under a dark shadow. If, therefore, the faithful minister of the New 
Church raised the voice of alarm, he did so under circumstances when 
mild words would have been unprofitable and gentleness inefi'ective. 


BiuiiH assailed Air. RushcII us tlic powerful jiiul popular Icatler of 
a party which had resi.sted Ariniiiian tenets and repelled Socinian 
error/ In this connexion the Poet's censure was the preacher's 
praise — the greatest poetical genius of liis country unconsciously 
celebrating one who upheld those principles of which the general 
recognition had rendered possible that freedom of sentiment which 
characterized the Poet's Muse. 

In describing the minister of the New Church as preaching terror, 
Burns sought to depict the mode of the evangelical school in strong 
contrast with the moderate phraseology of the New Light teachers, 
who avoided every expression which might disturb the conscience. 
Fortunately for his fame, the precise character of Mr. Russell's doctrine 
does not rest upon any poetical interpretation of it, or even upon 
tradition. He issued in 1796 a sermon on the text, " Go ye into 
all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature," which, 
preached to the Missionary Society of Kilmarnock, was printed at 
their request. In this discourse the preacher argues that holiness 
will grow from no other root than that of a cordial acceptance of the 
i^ospcl offer ; hence he urges that the main object of every preacher 
should be to lead men to contemplate the love of God in Christ. 
But we have ampler material wherewith to guide our judgment. 
W hen, in 182G, Dr. Chalmers was engaged in preparing for publica- 
tion the posthumous discoui*8e8 of Mr. Russell's son, the minister of 
Muthill, he selected four .sermons, preached by Mr. Russell, to be 
printed along with them. And these sermons are absolutely un- 
tainted with spiritual menace, the preacher earnestly expatiating 
on the extent and depth of the divine mercy. 

According to the author of the Memorabilia, Mr. Russell indulged 

' Concerning the Poet's political and religious J«cobit«, an Amiinian, and a Socinian.** — 

oitiuions in 1787, Mr. Ramsay of Ochtcrtye Ramsay's Scotland and ^rotemrw, Edin. 1888, 

writi's in his Jonrnal: " That jHwr man's priu- 2 vols., 8vo, toI. ii. p. 554. 
ciples were abundantly motluy, he being a 


a hearty jocundity, which, even on graver themes, he could with 
difficulty restrain. Opposed to formality in devotion, he held that 
prayer should consist of the simple utterances of the heart. In 
reference to this subject, Mr. Sage relates an anecdote of him, which 
we shall present in his own words : — 

When Mr. John Cameron, afterwards minister of Halkirk, in Caithness, was 
on his trials for licence before the Presbytery of Chanonry in 1766, he Avas by 
Mr. Eussell accompanied on his journey to the Presbytery seat. Mr. Cameron 
chanced to inform Mr. Eussell that in connexion with the three trial discourses 
he was to deliver to the Presbytery, he had composed three several prayers to be 
expressed along with them. These prayers, he said, had cost him much labour, 
and he had carefully committed them to memory, that they might be given 
fresh to the Presbytery. As their journey was a long one, the fellow-travellers 
had by the way to rest for a night at a country inn. On their arrival, JNIr. 
Kussell proposed family worship. To this proposition his companion assented, 
but was surprised to find that, on the plea that he was about to obtain licence 
as a preacher, Mr. Eussell imposed upon him the duty of conducting the service. 
In praying he gave verbatim one of the exercises intended for the Presbytery. 
Supper concluded, the friends were shown to a bedroom, which they were to 
occupy together. As Mr. Cameron was hastening to a corner of the room to his 
private devotions, Mr. Eussell prevented him. " My friend," he said, " it is 
more becoming that we should pray together ; and as you are to be engaged 
to-morrow in prayer and preaching, you cannot better prepare yourself than by 
being frequently engaged in the exercise." Mr. Cameron felt that a slap had 
already been made in his stock of prayers, and to the new proposal he strongly 
objected. But it would not do. Mr. Eussell was peremptory. Again upon 
his knees, the second of his elaborated prayers was offered. In the morning, 
after they got up, Mr. Eussell remarked, "We are about to resume our 
journey, and it is well we should pray together ; let us kneel, and you'll proceed. 
The exercise will better prepare you for the other duties which are before you." 
Mr. Cameron again resisted, but again was forced to yield ; he gave the third 
of his prepared exercises, and so exhausted his stock. " Your next prayer will 
be from the heart," said Mr. Eussell. His companion profited by the experience. ^ 

While lay patronage shed its baneful influence in the rural 

' Memorabilia Domeatica, M.S., vol. i. pp. 81^ 82. 

RF.V. fOIfN RnSSFLL. 197 

parishes, tlic iniuusUiiri of ciLieti aud huighti were usually chosen by 
the people. By the kiik-HcsHion and delegates of the West Churdi, 
or second charge of Stirling, Mr. Uussell \va« elected as their minister 
on the 22ud October 1 799, and was admitted to the office on the 
30th of the following January. At Stirling he ministered for seven- 
teen years, enjoying the respect and confidence of his people. He 
died at Stirling (m the 23rd of Februaiy 1817, in the seventy-seventh 
year of his age, and the forty-third of his ministry. 

Conjointly with the Rev. James Robertson of Kilmarnock, Mr. 
Russell issued from Mr. Wilson's press at Kilmarnock Sennons on 
Sacramental Occasiona, by Mr. James Fraser of Pitcalzian, minister 
of Alness. This reverend gentleman, who died in 1769, was a 
correspondent of Wodrow. A work from his pen on The Scripture 
Doctrine of Snnctijication, issued posthumously, became celebrated. 
In the preface to his volume of discourses, Mr. Russell remarks 
that "he had the honour to be personally acquainted with the 
author," and that he considered " the acquaintance as one of 
the ha}>piest circumstances " of his life. 

Mr. Russell married Catherine Cunningham, who, inheriting from 
her mother an ardent piety, became a zealous coadjutor of her 
husband in the exercise of Christian beneficence ; she died at 
Muthill on the 5th November 1819, at the age of seventy-four. Of 
the union were born two sons and one daughter. Alexander, the 
elder son, w^ent to London in his sixteenth year to occupy an 
appointment in the India House ; he died soon afterwards. John, 
the second son, born in 1784, was a distinguished student of the 
University of Glasgow, and, after being some time employed as 
a private tutor, was licensed to preach in 1807 by the Presbvteiy 
of Selkirk. Ordained, on the 26th September 1809, minister of 
Muthill, he was afterwaixls called to the parish of St John's in 
the city of Glasgow, and this latter event so moved him as to 


seriously affect his health. After a period of illness, he died at 
Muthill on the 17th April 1826, at the age of forty-two. A volume 
of his sermons was published posthumously under the editorial care of 
Dr. Chalmers, who prefixed a biographical introduction. He married, 
14th November 1810, Jean Aitken of Greenock (she died 30th July 
1 8 27), and had issue three sons and one daughter. John, the eldest son, 
joined the Baptist Church ; he died early, leaving a widow. James, 
the second son, died at the age of twenty, while studying for the 
Congregational Church. Alexander, third and youngest son, joined 
the Church of England, and, having emigrated to Australia, became 
incumbent of St. Paul's Church, Adelaide, also dean of his diocese. 
During the summer of 1886, while the annual festival of his con- 
gregation was being held in the Town Hall, he accidentally stumbled 
on the staircase, and was injured so seriously that he almost 
immediately expired. Eemarkable for his forcible expositions of 
divine truth. Dean Russell was a cultivator of general literature and 
a considerable poet. He published a volume of sacred verse entitled, 
The Seeker. He left a widow and six children. 

Catherine, only daughter of the minister of Muthill, was received 
into the Baptist Church ; she died unmarried. 

Mary, only daughter of the Rev. John Russell and Catherine 
Cunningham, married, 19th December 1804, the Rev. William 
Sheriff, minister of St. Ninians, who, having adopted the principles 
of those who uphold adult baptism, demitted his charge in 1823, 
and thereafter ministered to a Baptist congregation in Glasgow. 
Mrs. Sheriff died 5th December 1860. Of the marriao-e were born 


two sons and two daughters. William, the eldest son, a physician, 
died in India ; he married, with issue. John, the second son, 
practised as a solicitor in Glasgow. Catherine, the elder daughter, 

married MacEwen, with issue. Mary, the younger daughter, 

resides at Rockvale, Rothesay, and is unmarried. 

THOMAS S lAfSny. 199 

A tombstone in Stirling C'liunhynnl, commemorating the Rev. 
John Russell and his wife, Catherine Cunningham, was in the year 

1880 restored by public subscription. 


The subject of " Tarn Samson's Elegy " was Thomas Samson, market 
gardener in Kilmarnock. With Samson the Poet had frequent social 
meetings in the ** Bowling Green House in Hack Street, Kilmarnock," 
the landlord of which was Alexander Patrick, Samson's son-in-law. 
The " Elegy " appeared in the first Edinburgh edition, prefaced by 
the motto from Pope, *' An honest man's the noblest work of God." 
In explanation of the elegy being composed on his friend while he 
was still living, the Poet adds to the composition the following 
note : — " When this worthy old sportsman went out last muirfowl 
season, he supposed it was to be, in Ossian's phrase, ' the last of the 
fields,' and expressed an ardent wish to die and be buried in the 
muirs. On this hint the author composed his elegy and epitaph." 
Mr. Stunson survived till 1795. His remains were interred in 
Kilmarnock Laigh Churchyard, at the west end of the church, and 
there on a plain slab he is thus commemorated : — 

Thomas Samson 
died the 12th December 17{>5, aged 72 yean. 

Tarn Samson's weel-wom clay here lies ; 

Ye caDting zealots, spare him ! 
If honest worth in heaven rise, 

Ye'll mend or ye win near hint — Burns. 



The family of Sillar, or Sellars, are found in the parish of Tarbolton, 
as tenant-farmers, early in the eighteenth century. 

Patrick Sillar, farmer at Spittleside, in Tarbolton parish, had 
four sons— Robert, John, David, and William. Of these, David, the 
third son, forms the subject of the present sketch. He was born at 
Spittleside in the year 1760, and, having been educated at the 
parish school, was for a number of years employed in ordinary work 
about his father's farm. To his early occupation he, in addressing 
his supposed critics, thus refers in his printed volume : — 

Then know, when I these pieces made, 

Was toiling for my daily bread : 

A scanty learning I enjoyed, 

Sae judge how I hae it employ'd. 

I ne'er depended for my knowledge 

On school, academy, nor college. 

I gat my learnin' at the flail, 

All' some I catch'd at the plough-tail. 

Amang the brutes I own I'm bred, 

Since herding was my native trade. 

According to the author of The Contemporaries of Burns, ^ David 
Sillar became known to Burns in the year 1780, or early in 1781, 
when the latter was assisting his father on the lands of Lochlea, 
which are situated within two miles of Spittleside farm. In 
relation to the origin of their friendship, Mr. Sillar has made 
the following record :— 

Robert Burns was some time in the parish of Tarbolton prior to my 
acquaintance with him. His social disposition easily procured him acquaint- 

' CoiitemporarieH of Bums [by James Paterson], Edinburgh, 1840, 8vo, pp. 39, 40. 


anco ) but a cortuin satirical soosoning with whieli ho and all poutical gcniniicfl 
aro ill sonic degrees influenced, wlulo it act the niHtic circle in o roar, was not 
unaccomiMinied with suspicious fear. I recollect hearing his neighboars observe 
ho luid a groat deal to say for himself, and tliat they susjiccted his principles. 
Ho wore the only tied hair in the pariHh ; and in the church, his plaid, which 
was of a particular colour (I think fillcniot), ho wrapped in a f>eculiar manner 
round his slioulders. Theso surmises and his exterior made mo solicitous of 
his acquaintance. I was introduced by Gilbert, not only to his brother but to 
the whole of that family, where in a short time I became a frequent, and, I 
lu'licve, not unwelcome visitant. After the commencement of my ao|uaiutauco 
with the liartl, wo frequently met upon Sundays, at church, when, between 
.scrinons, instead of going with our friends or lasses to the inn, we often took a 
walk in the fii-Ms. 

Buriis's ** Epistle to Davie, a brother Poet," intended for David 
Sillar, which appeared in his Kilmarnock edition, was, according to 
tlie recollection of Gilbert Burns, composed in the summer of 1784, 
but there is internal evidence that it was not completed till the 
iollowing year, since, in the eighth stiinza, the Bard refers to his 
"darling Jean," and his acquaintance with Joan Armour «liil not 
commence before April 1785. 

Abandoning agricultural pursuits, David Sillar, by a course of 
private study, qualified himself to become interim teacher in the 
parish school, and, on the office becoming vacant, he offered himself 
as a candidate. Another applicant being preferred, he opened an 
adventure school at Commonside, near the village of Tarbolton, but, 
owing to lack of encouragement, he retired from the concern. 
Towards the close of 1783 he removed to Irvine, where, in a small 
shop under the Tolbooth, he traded as a grocer. 

In the fields, as a cowherd, Sillar had composed verses, and 
the success which had attended Burns in his Kilmarnock volume 
induced him to renew his jx)etical efforts. Distributing among his 
friends proposals for publishing a volume of poems, he succeeded in 

VOL. II. 2 c 


obtaining a large number of subscribers. In a letter from Ellisland, 
written on the 5tli August 1789, Burns informs him that he had 
procured him eleven subscribers ; while he rallies him on his having 
communicated with him in connexion with his proposed book too 
much in the strain of business, considering their former friendship.^ 

Mr. Sillar's volume appeared in 1789. Issued at Kilmarnock 
from the same press which had in 1786 produced Burns's first 
edition, it formed an octavo of 247 pages. Dedicating his per- 
formance to Hugh Montgomery, Esq., of Skelmorlie, afterwards 
Earl of Eglinton, the author addressed the public in the following 
preface : — 

Mankind in general, but particularly those who have had the advantage of 
a liberal education, may deem it presumption in the author, who has been 
denied that privilege, to attempt either instruction or amusement. But how- 
ever necessary a learned education may be in Divinity, Philosophy, or the 
Sciences, it is a fact that some of the best Poetical Performances amongst us 
have been composed by illiterate men. Natural genius alone is sufficient to 
constitute a poet : for the imperfections in the works of many poetical writers, 
which are ascribed to want of education, may, he believes, with more justice be 
ascribed to want of genius. He leaves every person to judge of his by his 
writings. The following pieces were composed just as the objects they treat of 
struck his imagination ; and, if they give others the same pleasure in reading 
Avhich they gave him in composing, he will have the satisfaction of obtaining 
his principal end in publishing. 

The design of the author in his publication is by no means to offend, but to 
instruct and amuse ; and although some, with greater judgment and sagacity, 
might have steered a more prudent course for themselves, yet he is conscious, 
however he may be treated, of having kept clear of personal reflections. The 
approbation of the judicious, though few, will always support hirti under the 
censure of the superstitious and prejudiced, and inspire him with a proper 
disregard for popular applause. 

' Library edition of Burus's Works, v. 251, 252. 


For tho liberal encouragement his respectable and numerous subscribers has 
given him, the author returns his sincere thanks : 

For back'il by them, his foes, thro' spite 
May <^x'\\\ their fill, but daurna bite. 

In his volume Silhir includes the ** Second Epistle to Davie, a 
ln'other Poet," which Burns had addressed to him, beginning, " I'm 
three times doubly o'er your debtor." His own compositions lack 
force, and are unhappily defaced l)y an occasional grossness. Closely 
imitating Burns in his rhymes and modes, he nevertheless opi)08e8 
Ms friend by denouncing strong drink. lie writes : — 

Poets, wi' muckle wit and skill, 
Ilae sung the virtues o* Scots yill ; 
And wi' the worth o' Higblan* gill 

Our ears hae rung ; 
The bad effects o' whisky still 

Remain unsung. 

The whisky trade — deil cares wha had it : 
My curse on him at first wha made it ; 
^^ay't doubly light on those wha spread it, 

An' drinkin* cherish ; 
Lord, toom their pouch, an' clip their credit, 

For fear we |>erish. 

lu his second epistle to Mr. Sillar, Burns has these lines : — 

Hale be your heart, hale be your fiddle ; 
Long may your elbuck jink and diddle ; 

the Poet so alluding to his friend's skill as a musician. And his 
acquaintance with the musical art considerably exceeded that of an 
expert performer on the violin, since he is known as composer of the 
air of Burns's song beginning, " A rosebud by my early walk." 

According to the author of The Contemjwraries of Burns, Sillar, 
in preparing his volume for the press, became remiss in his attention 
to business, with the result that he was involved in bankruptcy, 


Having been thrown into prison by a creditor to wbom he owed five 
pounds, he appealed for assistance to one of his brothers, who, dis- 
approving of his literary aspirations, refused to be a party to his 
enlargement. Having otherwise overcome his difficulty, he visited 
Edinburgh, in the hope of procuring literary employment. Un- 
successful in his new pursuit, he returned to Irvine, where he opened 
a school, chiefly for the instruction of young seamen in the science of 
navigation. This enterprise prospered, so that the teacher ere long 
secured a stated revenue of nearly one hundred pounds. Mr. Sillar 
afterwards attained large prosperity. By the death of William, his 
youngest brother, who rented the farm of Spittleside, he succeeded 
to the lease, also to a considerable portion of substance. Thereafter 
he obtained the sum of £12,000, on the death of his second brother, 
John, a Liverpool merchant trading with Africa. And he derived a 
further addition to his fortune on the death in 1811 of his eldest 
brother, Robert, who had also prospered as a merchant in Liverpool. 
Singularly enough, Mr. Sillar, while in the receipt of an income which 
must have vastly exceeded his most sanguine hopes, continued to 
exercise his function as a teacher of navigation till feeble health 
necessitated his retirement. Intensely parsimonious, he refused to 
contribute towards the Poet's monument on the banks of the Doon ; 
but he loved to discourse on his intercourse with the Bard, and to 
celebrate each anniversary of his birth. 

At Irvine Mr. Sillar took some interest in municipal aff'airs, 
serving as a councillor of the burgh, also in the magistracy. He 
died at Irvine on the 2nd May 1830, at the age of seventy. He 
married,^ first, Margaret Gemmell, widow of Kerr ; secondly, 

' David Sillar was, at the time when Bums Ye hae your Meg, your dearest part. 

addressed him poetically, in 1785, a suitor for ,. ^ ^ r , ^t i • ht 

*!,„ k„., 1 r \f i. /-> i n nr JVIarf'aret Orr preferred another adnin-er, Mr. 

the hand of Margaret Orr, a servant of Mrs. rini. . , ^ ,,. 

«^«.„-»4. 4. oi • TT 1. ^1 T^ ,. ,. John raton, a master shoemaker, whom she 

Stewart at Stair House, hence the Toet's line :— ., „ j- j • ,««- 

married. Slie died in 183/. 


Bryan. By his first wife he hwl several children, of whom 

were — Patrick, a midsliipman, who died at Surinam ; and Ziichary, 
M.D., who practised as a physician in Liverpool. 


John Simson, farmer in Ten-Pound Land in the parisli of Ochiltree, 
and liis wife Margaret Patcrson, had two sons, William and Patrick. 
William, the elder son, was baptized at Ochiltree on the 23rd August 
1758.* By his father intended for the Church, he was pursuing his 
theological studies at the University of Glasgow, when in the 
autumn of 1780 the parish school of Ochiltree bectime vacant. 
Becoming a candidate for the office, he was elected, and thereafter 
he devoted liimself exclusively to educational pursuits. 

When, in the spring of 1785, the Poet composed his "Twa 
Herds," lie gave a copy to a friend, without acknowledging himself 
as the writer. But, as copies multiplied, and the verses were by a 
number of persons received with applause, the authorship became 
known. At this time Patrick Simson procured in Kilmarnock a 
copy of the poem, which he carried to Ocliiltree for the amusement 
of his brother William, he being alike an admirer of poetry and a 
writer of versos. Treasuring his acquisition, the versifier at 
Ochiltree transmitted to his brother rhjrmer at Mossgiel a poetical 
epistle expressing his cordial appreciation. Mr. Simson's epistle has 
been lost, but it prompted from the Poet a rejoinder, which became 
a chief attraction of his Kilmarnock volume. 

' Ochiltree Parish Ro^istor. Tlie t-ntrics in Simson and his brother Patrick are made in 
the register n-hiting to the baptisms of William Roman characters. 


The Poet and his correspondent afterwards met, but the intimacy 
was not actively continued. Mr. Simson was on terms of friend 
ship with Thomas Walker, tailor and poet at Poole near Ochiltree, 
who addressed to Burns the rhyming epistle included in some 
editions of his works, commencing " What waefu' news is this I 
hear ? " Walker's composition, which refers to the Poet's affair with 
Jean Armour, and his proposal to leave the country, violently 
hortatory as it is, is believed under Simson's care to have been 
modified and abridged. As the Mossgiel Bard had responded to 
Mr. Simson's rhymes. Walker anticipated a like favour, and had 
complained to his friend the schoolmaster of the Bard's inattention. 
Not long afterwards reached Poole a rhyming epistle, in the Poet's 
favourite measure, and to which was appended the name Robert 
Burns. This composition, commencing "What ails ye now, ye 

lousie b " is generally included in the Poet's writings. It was 

ascribed to him in "Stewart's and Meikle's Tracts," published in 
1799, but no MS. in the Poet's handwriting has been forthcoming 
to sustain the genuineness. On the other hand, Mr. James Paterson, 
in his Contemporaries of Burns, unhesitatingly ascribes the com- 
position to Simson. Mr. Paterson adds : — 

Tom Walker was exceedingly proud of the imagined reply of Burns, and 
lost no time in walking over to Ochiltree, to show the dominie the epistle. It 
required all the gravity of the latter to prevent a disclosure. He succeeded, 
however, and it is questionable whether the tailor was ever apprised of the true 
author of the reply. . . . Happening to meet Burns not long after this, Simson 
informed him of the liberty he had taken with his name. " You did well," said 
the Poet, laughing ; " you have thrashed the tailor much better than I could 
have done." 

Mr. Paterson wrote in 1840, while Mr. Simson's brother, Patrick, 
to whom he was personally known, was still living.^ 

1 Contemporaries of Burns, Edinb. 1840, pp. 64-78. 


According to Mr. Puterson, William Simson composed other 
satiric poems at the expense of his friend, the tailor of Poole, but 
which he desired should not be printed. His humorous elegy on 
the Emperor Paul proceeds thus : — 

Tho Emporor Paul was a plaguo to us all, 

And excited tho wrath of our Navy ; 
But tho moment ho found wo had wcathcr'd tho Sound, 

For shelter fled down to Sir Davio, auld Davio, 

Plump downward to dainty auld Davio.^ 

Says Davio, What haste 1 yo scorned to be cliased ; 

Ay, chased wi' a witness, says Paul, sir ; 
Lord Nelson's got round, having weathcr'd tlie Sound, 

In spite of their jxtwder and Imll, sir, and all, sir, 

Yon forts and strong batteries all, sir. 

Of Croningbcrg fort, ho just made a sport ; 

Ho laughed at yon islos and flotillas ; 
As eagles would hens, he scatter'd the Danes, 

And sank all their craft in tho billows, poor fellows. 

Quite tumblotl tlunn under the billows. 

Our friends on the deep now daurna play peep. 

Afraid of some horrible evil ; 
For tho story goes round, from tho Nile to tho Sound, 

That Nelson of Bront is a devil — sea devil ; 

For his prowess proclaims him a devil 

Sinco poor Copenhagen his Lordship is fl(^ng, 

With grapo, bomb, and Imll heltcrskelter ; 
Despoil'd of my rest, I divetl from my nest, 

Plump down to your regions for shelter, grant shelter ; 

Davie, do grant me some shelter ! 

* In allusioQ to Davtt^t locker, a sea term for death. 


Says Davie to Paul, Be easy, poor saul, 

You are safe, and as welcome's a britlier ; 
Come ben, take a seat by your mammie, auld Kate ; 

What a chance you wan down to your mither, safe hither ! 

What a comfort to Kate, your auld mither ! 

In 1788 Mr. Simson was appointed parish schoolmaster of 
Cumnock, and he diligently fulfilled the duties of that office till 
his death, which took place on the 4th July 1815. His remains 
were consigned to the parish churchyard of Cumnock, and a tomb- 
stone at his grave chronicles the history of his family in the 
following legend : — 

To the memory of William Simson, late schoolmaster of Cumnock, who 
died July 4th 1815, aged 57 years, and four of his children, viz. Patrick, who 
died 12th October 1813, aged 19 years; Elizabeth, 17th ISTovember 1813, aged 
14 years; John died 19th January 1814, aged 22 years; Andrew died 9th 
January 1817, aged 15 years. Sarah Hewatson, their mother, died 10th June 
1834, aged 72 years. 

The stone has been recently renovated, and the following lines, by 
Mr. A. B. Todd, added to the inscription : — 

Here " Winsome Willie " lies, whose worth, 

In Burns woke equal love ; 
And death, which wrenched the ties on earth. 

Has knit them now above. 

James Simson, another son of the schoolmaster of Cumnock, died 
at Ochiltree on the 24th December 1836, at the age of twenty- 

Mr. Simson's younger brother Patrick has, by Allan Cunning- 
ham, the Ettrick Shepherd, and others, been erroneously described 
as the " Winsome Willie " of the Poet's epistle. Patrick was born 
on Ten-Pound Land farm on the 8th April 1765 ; he entered on 


tlie duties of tutor in a private family at Ochiltree in 1777, and in 
1783 was appointed teacher at Straiton, in Carrick. In June 1788 
lie succeeded his brother in the parish school of Ocliiltree. In 1833, 
when he had as a pul)lic instructor completed his fiftieth year, he 
was Iw^noured with a jubilee dinner. lie died in 1848, at the age 
• •f eighty-three. Skilful in the use of the pen, he, in his capacity 
as session-clerk at Ochiltree, transcribed a large portion of the 
parish register, wliich had suffered from imperfect custodiership. 
lie was an expert classical and general scholar ; he also wooed 
the Muse. By Sir Alexander Boswell he was entrusted with cor- 
recting the proof-sheets of the reprints issued from the Auchinleck 

Patrick Simson married, in October 1792, Helen Ilowatson, 
daughter of William Howatson, farmer, Duntaggart, Ochiltree, 
sister of his brother William's wife; she died 4th June 1833, at 
the age of sixty-eight. 


In both kingdoms Skinner was an early surname. In Sir Alexander 
Soton's account to tlie High Chamberlain of the taxation of Berwick, 
rendered on the 16th March 1330, a payment is denoted to William 
Skinner for sustaining a ward of the Crown. Among the disburse- 
ments of the Chamberlain of Scotland in the year 1337 are included 
certain costs incurred by Robert Skinner, who, by King David II,, 
had been despatched with letters to Norway.' In the rental of 
St. Mary's Monastery of Cupar in 1542, " the late Dean Skinner" is 

> £xchcquer Rolls, i. Sll, 450. 
VOL. II. 2 D 


mentioned in connexion with a portion of garden ground/ Among 
the students of King's College, Aberdeen, enrolled in 1648, is named 
James Skinner, who appears in 1 6 5 2 as a graduate.^ Laurence Skinner 
graduated at the University of St. Andrews in 1603, and in 1615 
was admitted minister of Dunlappie, Kincardineshire. He was after- 
wards translated to Novar, where he died in 1647, leaving two sons — 
Laurence, who succeeded him at Novar, and afterwards was trans- 
lated to Brechin; and William, who became minister of Liff.^ 
Kelated to this family were John Skinner, described in 1662 as Provost 
of Brechin, and David Skinner, denoted as Bailie of Brechin in 1664.* 
In the last decade of the seventeenth century, two brothers, 
George and James Skinner, were resident at Aberdeen, the former 
in the new town, the latter in the old. From the parish register 
we learn that both brothers belonged to the Episcopal Church. 
In the parish register under the 24th May 1693 is the following 
entry : — " George Skinner, indweller, and Anne Eobertson, his 
spouse, had a daughter named Margaret, baptized by Mr. Andrew 
Burnet, minister ; William Fettes, tailor, and James Hay, indweller, 
godfathers." ^ The presence of " godfathers " at the baptism 
indicates that it was performed according to the Episcopal rite ; 
while in the baptizer we recognise one who, then officiating as 
minister of the East Church, — to which he had been admitted in 
1686 through the influence of the Lord Chancellor Perth, — was in 
1695 deprived by Parliament for refusing the oath of allegiance to 
William and Mary, and was in 1716 deposed for praying for the 
Pretender.^ When, on the 6th October 1695, "James Skinner at 

^ Rental Book of Abbey of Cupar, ii. 209. Skinner is described as one of the sub-tenants 

^ Fast\ Aberdonensis, 469, 514. at Gilcomstone, and as without "free stock;" 

^ Fasti Eccl Scot., iii. 816, 834, 851. he and his wife are accordingly entered for 

* Forfar Register of Sasines. personal cess only, the amount charged being 

^ Aberdeen Register of Baptisms. In the twelve shillings Scots. 

Poll Book of Aberdeenshire for 1696, George " Fasti Eccl. Scot., iii. 464. 


Dcnbiirn " received baptism for liis son, John, four persons present 
on the occasion, including his brother George, are named as 
"witnesses;" but the rite was performed "be Mr. Hamilton,"* 
who was an Episcopal clergyman. 

John Skinner prosecuted his stmlies m Maii.-><hal College, where 
he completed liis education in 1716." Qualifying himself as a 
teacher, he was for his first appointment indebted to a kinsman. 
Tills was William Skinner, who rented the lands of Birsemore in 
Deeside, and who in the Poll Book of Aberdeenshire of 1696 is 
charged seven shillings and tenpence as his proportion of the valued 
rent of his farm, also 19s. 8d. in "the general poll" for himself and 
liis wife. John Skinner taught a school at Balfour, near the fann of 
liirscmore, and which was the only seminary that the wild and 
mountainous parish of Birse then possessed. Not unsuccessful in 
his teaching, the young schoolmaster was also fortunate in his 
wooing. Among the heritors of Birse parish enrolled in the Poll 
Book, appears the name of Donald Farquharson of Balfour,' with a 
valued rent of £216, 13s. 4d. Ilis wife, a daughter of Gillanders 
of Ilighfield, a neighbouring landowner, was left a widow some 
time prior to 1720, for in that year she accepted as her second 
husband the Birsemore schoolmaster. Of the marriage was born at 
Birse, on the 3rd October 1721, a son, named John, the author of 
" Tulloehs^orum." 

From the Grampian solitudes of Birse, John Skinner was, in 
1723, transferred to the office of parish schoolmast-er of Echt, a 
fertile and well-cultivated locality within twelve miles of Abertleen. 

■ Old Machar Pariah Regbt«r. in 1806-7 of the Royal College of Saigeotu, 

* Such was the inromiatton 8Up])Uc4l by the Edinburgh. Dr. Farquharaon died in 1823, 

author of "TuUochgorum," John Skinner's son, tearing a son, FrancU, M.D., who succeeded to 

to Mr. Ramsay of Ochtertyre. — Rantsay'a SoA- the estate of Fiuxean, comprehending nearly 

lawl and Scotsmen, vol. i, p. 290, note. half of the parish of Birse, and producing a 

' Donald FAri{uharson of Balfour was grand- present rental of upwards of X6000 a yMf. 
laUurof Williivni Faniuharson, M.D., President 


Unhappily the pleasant and prosperous change was marred by a 
serious bereavement. Mrs. Skinner succumbed to a native delicacy, 
leaving her motherless child to the sole care of his surviving parent. 
During twelve years Mr. Skinner remained a widower, and he did 
not contract a second marriage till his son, the future poet, had 
become, through his judicious upbringing, a college student. In 
1734 the youth gave evidence of scholastic power by his success in 
a public competition on entering Marischal College. At this 
college he passed through the Arts curriculum of four years, and 
was soon afterwards appointed usher in the parish school of 
Kemnay. After a short interval he was preferred to the office of 
assistant- teacher at Monymusk, and while in this situation he began 
to publicly evince his poetical aptitude. So early as his twelfth 
year he had composed verses, and at that age had committed to 
memory King James the First's popular ballad of " Chryste Kirk on 
the Green." He now founded on that poem a humorous composi- 
tion descriptive of a local pastime, which he entitled, " The Mony- 
musk Christmas Ba'ing." 

" The Christmas Ba'ing," which was composed by Mr. Skinner in 
his nineteenth year, attracted the notice of Sir Archibald Grant, the 
lord of the manor, who, inviting the author to his residence, gave 
him access to his library. Towards the young poet-schoolmaster 
Lady Grant also exercised a kindly patronage, which was acknow- 
ledged by the dedication to her of a MS. collection of ten of his 
poetical compositions. 

His progenitors being of the Episcopal persuasion, Mr. Skinner 
was by the family at Monymusk House encouraged to attach himself 
to the communion to which they had belonged. But this change 
implied no inconsiderable sacrifice, for the emoluments of a non- 
juring clergyman were generally meagre, and his personal security 
more than doubtful. 


Determiniuf' at length to attach himself to the Church of his 
fon^fatliers, Mr. Skiuner began to attend the Episcopal chapel at 
BlairdufF, a proceeding which implied the resignation of his office, 
lie now luul recourse to the counsel and assistance of ]\Ir. Robert 
Forbes, Episcopal clergyman at Leith, a native of Aberdeenshire, 
and whose progenitors were ecclesiastically identified with his own. 
On Mr. Forbes's recommendation he was appointed private tutor to 
the only son of Mr. Sinclair of Scalloway, in Shetland. In the 
discharge of his office he remained at Scalloway two years, when, 
owing to the death of the elder Mr. Sinclair, and his pupil's removal to 
aiiotlier locality, his engagement closed. lie lamented Mr. Sinclair's 
death in an afi'ecting elegy, and also prepared a I^itin inscription for 
his tombstone. At Shetland he formed the intimacy of Mr. John 
Hunter, the Episcopal clergyman, who, in token of confidence, per- 
mitted him to wed his eldest daughter while he was yet without 
any immediate prospect of employment in the Church. 

Returning from Shetland to his native county, Mr. Skinner was 
ordained a presbyter by Bishop Dunbar of Peterhead, and on the 
occurrence of a vacancy in the Episcopal church at Longside, he 
was, in November 1742, on the invitation of the members, instituted 
in the charge. His emoluments did not exceed forty pounds, 
and, as there wtis no parsonage, he rented a two-roomed cottage at 
Linshart, in the vicinity. 

Though personally willing to subscribe the oath of allegiance and 
abjuration, also to pray for King George by name, Mr. Skinner was, 
consequent on the rebellion of 1745, subjected to persecution by the 
soldiers of the Duke of Cumberland, — his church was wrecked, — 
and, charged with breaking the law by preaching to more than four 
persons, he was, on the 26th May 1753, committed to prison at 
Aberdeen, and was there detained for six months. In prison he 
improved his acquaintance with the Hebrew tongue, thereby qualify- 


ing himself for tliat critical study of the Old Testament Scriptures 
in which he afterwards excelled. 

In the hope of making a better provision for his family, Mr. 
Skinner leased, in 1758, the farm of the Mains of Ludquharn, on the 
estate of Lord Errol. The adventure proved embarrassing, and after 
a seven years' ineffective struggle, the lease was abandoned. The 
lessee celebrated his emancipation by addressing to a friend a poetical 
epistle. He begins thus : — 

You ask, my friend, whence comes this sudden flight, 
Of parting thus with husbandry outright ? 
What mean I by so strange a foolish whim, 
Am I in earnest, or think you I but dream ? 
True, you may think so, but suspend, I pray, 
Your judgment, till you hear what I can say. 
I join with you that there is no great harm 
In clergy-folks to hold a little farm. 

Mr. Skinner next dilates, in facetious strain, on the anxieties and 
perplexities in which agriculture had involved him. With a hearty 
humour he concludes :— 

Thus farm and house demands come on together, 
Both must be answered. 1 can answer neither. 

Why, then, I'll borrow ! I have many a friend ; 
There's such and such a one, all rich, and surely kind. 
Well, they're applied to, and behold the end — 
They all condole, indeed, but cannot lend. 

Would any friend advise me thus to bear 
Repeated strokes like these, from year to year ? 
No ! th' event, be what it will, prepar'd am I, 
And now resolv'd another course to try : 


Sell com and cattle oJET; pay every man ; 
Get free of debt and duns as fast's I can ; 
Give up the fann with all it8 wants, and then- 
Why, oven take me to the Inwk and |)cn, 
The fittest trade I find, for clergymen. 

Wliile he rented liis unprofitable acres, Mr. Skinner had not, for 
the cultivation of the soil, abandoned his poetical activities. To the 
period of his fjirming belong the two most popular of his songs, 
"The Ewie wi' the Crookit Horn" and "Tullochgorum." The 
loriner he composed in response to a suggestion by his friend. 
Professor James Beattie, author of " The Minstrel," who had been 
personally solicited to wTite a pastoral song, but had contrived to 
produce these lines only, — 

The ewie wi' the crookit horn, 
Sic a ewie was never born, 

Thoreaboot nor far awa'. 

Transniittine: these lines to Mr. Skinner, Professor Beattie remarked 
that he was " the best qualified in Scotland " to compose a song 
suitable to the tune ; and this favourable estimate was justified, 
inasmuch as the poet of Linshart followed up the key-note with a 
identic pathos and inimitable humour. His song of ** Tullochgorum " 
was suggested by Mrs. Montgomery, wife of the Inland Revenue 
otticcr in the village of Ellon. At the house of this gentlewoman 
Mr. Skinner and some of his brethren were spending an evening 
after a diocesan meeting which had been held in the place. A 
discussion arose on the subject of Whig and Tory politics, which 
threatened to wax hot ; whereupon Mrs. Montgomery, to allay the 
debate, changed the subject with the remark, that she deplored the 
want of suitable words for some excellent Scottish airs. She then 
suggested that Mr. Skinner should forthwith compose a song to 


the air of " Tullochgorum." Mr. Skinner consented, and in the 
opening stanza of the song thus referred to the occasion of its 
origin : — 

Come gie's a sang, Montgomery cried, 
And lay your disputes all aside ; 
What signifies't for folks to chide 

For what was done before them % 
Let Whig and Tory all agree, etc. 

Though living apart from the public centres, the Longside pastor 
contrived to familiarize himself with contemporary literature. With 
the writings of the Ayrshire Bard he became acquainted at an early 
stage, regarding him with a hearty admiration. On the other 
hand. Burns was familiar with Mr. Skinner's minstrelsy, and would 
in his northern journey have paid him a visit if his locality had 
been known to him ; he afterwards learned, not without chagrin, 
that he had passed within four miles of his residence at Linshart. 
When, in his progress homeward from Inverness, the Poet reached 
Aberdeen, he derived some compensation for missing the father 
by a cordial interview with his son. In his Diary, under the 
10th September, he has this entry: — "Meet with Mr. Chalmers, 
printer, a facetious fellow. . . . Bishop Skinner, a non- juror, 
son of the author of ' Tullochgorum,' a man whose mild vener- 
able manner is the most marked of any in so young a man." 
His casual interview with the Ayrshire Poet the Bishop in 
his next letter to his father related circumstantially. He wrote 
thus : — 

Calling at the printing-ofl&ce the other day, whom should I meet on the stair 
but the famous Burns, the Ayi-shire Bard ! And on Mr. Chalmers telling him 
that I was the son of " Tullochgorum," there was no help but I must step into 


the inh hard by and drink a ghiss uf wino with him and ilio printer. < ' u 
time was short, as ho was just setting off for the south, and his coro{)anion 
hurrying liim, but wo had fifty "nuld sangs" througli hand, and 8i>ent an hour 
or so most agreeably. " Diil not your father writo 'The Kwio wi' the Crookit 
Hortj ' 1 " Yes." •• • Oh, an' I had the loon that did it ! '" said ho in a rapture of 
praise ; " but tell him how I love, and esteem, and venerate his tndy Scottish 
muse." On mentioning his ** Kwic," and how you were delighted with it, lie 
said it was all owing to yours, which had sUirtecl tho thought. He had been at 
Gordon Castle, and came by Peterhead. *' Then," said I, " you were within 
four miles of * Tullochgorum's ' dwelling." Had you seen the look he gave, and 
so expressive of vexation ; had he been your own son, you couhl not have 
wished a better proof of his affection. " Well," said he at parting, and shaking 
me by tho hand as if ho had been really my brother, •* I am liappy in having 
seen you, and thereby conveying my long-harboured sentiments of rcgnnl for 
your worthy sire ; assure him of it in the heartiest manner, and that never did 
a devotee of the Virgin Mary go to Lorctto with more fervour than I would 
have approached bis dwelling and worsbipiwd at his shrine." He was collecting 
in his tour all the "auld Scots sangs" he had not hcanl of, and likewise the 
tunes, that ho may get them set to music. " Perhaps," said he, " your father 
might assist me in making this collection ; or, if not, I should be happy in any 
way to rank him among my correspondents." " Then give me your direction, 
anil it is probable you may hear from him some time or other." On this ho 
wrote his direction on a slip of paper, which I have enclosed, that you may see 
it under his own band. As to his personal appearance, it is very much in his 
favour. He is a genteel-looking young man, of gooil address, ami talks with 
nuich propriety, as if he had received an academical eduaition. He has, indeed, 
a flow of language, and seems never at a loss to express himself in the strongest 
and most nervous manner. On my quoting, with some sentiments of praise, the 
Ayrshire jioxcman^ '• Well," he saiil, " and a ploughman I was from my youth, 
and till within these two years had my shoes studded with a hundred Uicket*. 
But even then I was a reader, and had very nearly made all the English poets 
familiar to me, not forgetting the old banls of the best of all poetical books, tho 
Old Testament." 

" Tullocligoiuni " waa not loug iii te^stifying to the Ayrshire Bard 
that he had received his message and his address. In a poetical 

VOL. II. 2 E 


epistle to the Poet, dated from Linshart, the 25th September, he 

proceeds thus : — 

Oh, happy hour for evermair, 

That led my chill' up Chalmers' stair,^ 

And ga'e him what he values sair, 

Sae braw a skance 
Of Ayrshire's dainty poet there 

By lucky chance, 

Wae's my auld heart, I was na wi' you, 
Tho' worth your while I couldna gi'e you 
But sin' I had na hap to see you 

When ye was north, 
I'm bauld to send my service to you 

Hence o'er the Forth. 

Sae proud's I am that ye hae heard 

0' my attempts to be a bard. 

And think my muse nae that ill-faur'd 

Sell o' your face ! 
I wad na wish for mair reward 

Than your guid grace. 

Your bonny beukie, line by line, 
I've read, and think it freely fine. 
Indeed I winna ca't divine 

As others might ; 
For that, ye ken, frae pen like mine, 

Wad no' be right. 
But, by my sang, I dinna won'er 
That ye've admirers mony hun'er ; 
Let gowkit fieeps pretend to skunner, 

And tak' oiFence, 
Ye've naething said that leuks like blun'er 

To fowk o' sense. 

1 The stair of Mr. Chalmers' priuting-office in Aberdeen, where Burns was when Bishop Skinner 
met him. 


Your pawky '• Dream " has humour in't ; 
I never saw the like in print : 
The r.iiflitliv T.:iiirit ilurnt na mint 

A3 yo hao thine ; 
And yet there's nao a single hint 

Can bo ill ta'en. 

Your " Mailie," and your guid " Auld Mare," 
And " Hallow-even's " funny cheer — 
There's nunc that reads them far or near 

But reezes Kobic, 
And thinks them as diverting gear 

As Yorick'8"Tobio." 

But, oh, the weel-tauld " Cotter's Night " 
Is what gi'es me the maist delight — 
A piece sae finish'd and sae tight ! 

There's nane o's a' 
Could preachnient-timmer cleaner dight 

In kirk or Im'. 

But what needs this or that to name 1 
It's own'd by a' there's nae a theme 
Ye tak' in hand, hut's a' the same ; 

And nae ane o* them 
But weel may challenge a' the fame 

That we can gi'e them. 

For mo, 1 heartily allow you 

The warld of praise sae justly due you ; 

And but a Plowman I sail I trow you 1 

Clin it be sae, 
A miracle I will allow you, 

IVny't wha may ! 

Sac, wliat avails a leasli o' lair 

Thro' seven lang years, and some guid mair, 


Whan Plowman lad, wi' Xature bare, 
Sae far surpasses 

A' we can Jo wi' study sair 

To climb Parnassus % 

But, thanks to praise, you're i' your prime, 
And may chant on this lang, lang time ; 
For, let me tell you, 'twere a crime 

To hand your tongue, 
\yi' sic a knack ye hae at rhyme. 

And you sae young. 

Ye ken it's no' for ane like me 
To be sae droll as ye can be ; 
But ony help that I can gie, 

Though't be but sma'. 
Your least command, I'll let you see. 

Shall gar me draw. 

An hour or twa, by hook or crook. 
And maybe three, some ora ouk, 
That I can spare frae haly beuk. 

For that's my hobby, 
I'll slip awa' to some bye neuk. 

And crack wi' Robie. 

Wad ye but only crack again, 
Just what ye like, in ony strain, 
I'll tak' it kind ; for, to be plain, 

I do expect it ; 
And, mair than that, I'll no' be fain 

Gin ye neglect it. 

To Linshart, gin my name ye spier. 
Where I hae heft near fifty year, 
'Twill come in course, ye need na fear, 

The part's weel kent ; 
And postage, be it cheap or dear, 

I'll pay content. 


Now, after a', ha'o me oxquecs'il 
For wifwing uae to be refeotj'd ; 
I (liiuui covet to be rcezM 

For this fool lilt ; 
But, fool or wise, gin ye be pleas'd, 

Ye'ro wolcoiuo till't. 

Sne, canty Plowman, fnro ye weel ; 
Lord bless ye lang wi' hac and heul', 
And keep ye aye the honest chiel' 

That ye ha'e been ; 
Syne lift ye to a Ixjtter biel' 

Whnn this is dune. 


This auld Scots' muse I've courted lang, 

And spar'd nae pains to win her ; 
Dowf tho' I be in rustic sang, 

I'm no' a raw beginner. 
But now auld age talc's dowie turns, 

Yet, troth, as I'm a sinner, 
I'll aye be fond of Robie Bums 

Wliile I can sign — John Skinkkr. 

Deeply gratified by the honour bestowed upon him by his new 
correspondent. Burns replied to him in prose. In an undated letter, 
but which seems to have been posted on the 25th October, he 
addressed Mr. Skinner in these terms : — 

RxN'BRSND AND Vknerable Sir, — Accept in plain dull proee my most 
sincere thanks for the best poetical compliment I ever received. I assure you, 
sir, as a poet you have conjured up an airy demon of vanity in my fancy, which 
the best abilities in your oOitr capacity would be ill able to lay. I regret, and 
while I live I shall regret, that when I was in the North I had not the pleasure 
of paying a younger brother's dutiful rcsjwct to the author of the best Scotch 
song ever Scotland saw — *' Tullochgorum's my delight ! " The world may think 


slightingly of the craft of song-making, if they please; but, as Job says, 
" that mine adversary had written a book ! " — let them try. There is a 
certain something in the old Scotch songs, a Avild happiness of thought and 
expression, which peculiarly marks them, not only from English songs, but 
also from the modern efforts of song-wrights, in our native manner and 
language. The only remains of this enchantment, these spells of the imagina- 
tion, rests with you. Our true brother, Ross of Lochlee, was likewise "owre 
cannie," a " wild warlock," but now he sings among the " sons of the morning." 
I have often wished, and will certainly endeavour, to form a kind of common 
acquaintance among all the genuine sons of Caledonian song. The world, busy 
in low prosaic pursuits, may overlook most of us; but "reverence thyself." 
The world is not our j^eers, so we challenge the jury. We can lash that world, 
and find ourselves a very great source of amusement and happiness independent 
of that world. There is a work going on in Edinburgh just now, which claims 
your best assistance. An engraver in this town has set about collecting and 
publishing all the Scotch songs, with the music, that can be found. Songs in 
the English language, if by Scotchmen, are admitted, but the music must all be 
Scotch. Drs. Beattie and Blacklock are lending a hand, and the first musician 
in town presides over the department. I have been absolutely crazed about it, 
collecting old stanzas, and every information remaining respecting their origin, 
authors, etc. This last is but a very fragment-business ; but at the end of his 
second number — the first is already pviblished — a small account will be given 
of the authors, particularly to preserve those of later times. Your three songs 
— " Tullochgorum," "John of Badenyon," and " Ewie wi' the Crooked Horn" — 
go in this second number. I was determined before I got your letter to write 
you, begging that you would let me know where the editions of these pieces 
may be found, as you would wish them to continue in future times ; and if you 
would be so kind to this undertaking as send any songs of your own or others 
that you would think proper to publish, your name will be inserted among 
the other authors, " will ye, nill ?/e." One half of Scotland already give your 
songs to other authors. Paper is done. I beg to hear from you — the sooner the 
better, as I leave Edinburgh in a fortnight or three weeks. — I am, with the 
warmest sincerity, sir, your obliged humble servant, 

Robert Burns. 
To the request that he would render aid in the new collection 


{.lohnson's Museum), the Longside poet hastened to reply. He 
wrote thus : — 

L1N8BABT, lith Nov. 1787. 

Sir, — Yuur kind return Mrithout dato, but of postmark October 25th, 
camo to my hand only tliis dny : and to testify my punctuality to my 
ix)ctic engagement, I sit down immediately to answer it in kin<l. Your 
acknowlodgmont of my i)oor but just encomiums on your surprising genius, 
and your opinion of my rhyming excursions, are both, I think, by far too high. 
The diffcroncc botwcou our two tracks of education and M'ays of life is entirely 
in your favour, and gives you the preference every manner of way. I know a 
classical education will not create a versifying taste, but it mightily improves 
and assists it ; and though, where both these meet, there may sometimes be 
ground for approbation, yet where taste api>ears single, as it were, and neither 
cramped nor supported by acquisition, I will always sustain the justice of its 
prior claim to applause. A small portion of taste this way I have had almost 
from childhootl, csiwcially in the old Scottish dialect ; and it is as old a thing 
as I remember, my fondness for " Chryste Kirk o' the Green," which I had by 
heart ere I was twelve years of age, and which some years ago I attempted to 
turn into Latin verse. While I was young I dabbled a gootl deal in these 
tilings ; but on getting the black gown I gave it pretty much over, till my 
daughters grew up, who, being all tolerably gootl singers, plagued me for words 
to some of their favourite tunes, and so extorted those effusions which liave 
made a public appearance beyond my exi)ectation9, and contrary to my 
ir>t*'ntions — at the same time that I hope there is nothing to bo found in 
them uncharacteristic or un1)ocoming the cloth, which I would always wish to 
see respected. As to the assistance you propose from me in the undertaking 
you are engaged in, I am sorry I uinnot give it so far as I could wish, and you 
])orhaps exiiect. My daughters, who were my only intelligencers, are all 
/oris /amilialf, and the old woman, their mother, has lost that taste. There 
are two from my own pen, which I might give you if worth the while. One to 
the old Scotch tune of " Dumbarton's Drums." The other perhaps you have 
mot with, as your noble friend the Duchess has, I am told, heard of it. It was 
squeezed out of mo by a brother parson in her neighbourhootl, to accommodate 
a new Highland reel for the Marquis's birthday to the stanza of 

Tune your fiddles, tune them sweetly, etc 


If this last answer your purpose, you may have it from a brother of mine, 
Mr. James Skinner, writer in Edinburgh, who, I believe, can give the music 
too. There is another humorous thing I have heard, said to have been done 
by the Catholic priest, Geddes, and which hit my taste much : — 

There was a wee Avifeikie Avas comin' frae the fair 
Had gotten a little drappikie which bred her meikle care ; 
It took upo' the wifie's heart, and she began to spew. 
And co' the Avee Avifeikie, I Avish I binna fou. 
I wish, etc. 

I have heard of another neAV composition by a young plowman of my acquaint- 
ance, that I am vastly pleased Avith, to the tune of the " Humours of Glen," 
which I fear won't do, as the music, I am told, is of Irish original, I have 
mentioned these, such as they are, to shoAV my readiness to oblige you, and to 
contribute my mite, if I could, to the patriotic work you have in hand, and 
which I Avish all success to. You have only to notify your mind, and what 
you Avant of the above shall be sent you. Meantime, Avhile you are thus 
publicly, I may say, employed, do not sheath your OAvn proper and piercing 
weapon. From Avhat I have seen of yours already, I am inclined to hope for 
much good. One lesson of virtue and morality delivered in your amusing 
style, and from such as you, will operate more than dozens Avould do from 
such as me, Avho shall be told it is our employment, and be never more minded. 
Whereas, from a pen like yours, as being one of the many, what comes will be 
admired. Admiration Avill produce regard, and regard Avill leave an impression, 
especially when example goes along. 

Now binna saying I'm ill bred, 
Else by my troth I'll no' be glad ; 
For cadgers, ye hae heard it said, 

And sic like fry. 
Maun ay be harlin' in their trade. 

And sae maun I. 

Wishing you from my poet-pen all success, and in my other character all 
happiness and heavenly direction, I remain, Avith esteem, your sincere friend, 

John Skinner. 

The Poet's next letter to his northern correspondent is dated 


Kdinburgli, the 14tli February 1788. After apologizing for his 
silence, he proceeds : — 

I must beg your puidun fur the epiHtlo yuu scut a|>{>cnring in the Magazine. 

I had given a copy or two to some of my intimate friends, but did not know 

of the printing of it till the publication of the Magazine. However, as it 

does great honor to us both, you will forgive it. The second volume of the 

songs I nuuitioncd to you in my lust is publishotl to-tlay. I send you a copy, 

which I Ijeg you will accept as n mark of the veneration I have long had, and 

shall over have fur your character, and of the claim I make to your continued 

acquainUincc. Your songs appear in the thinl volume, wiih your name in the 

index ; as I assure you, sir, I have heard your " Tullocligorum," particularly 

among our west country-folks, given to many different names, and most 

commonly to the immortal author of "The Minstrel," who indeed never wrote 

anything suixjrior to "Gie's a sang, Montgomery cried." Your brother ha« 

promised me your verses to the Marquis of Huntly's reel, which certainly 

deserve a place in the collection. My kind host, Mr. Cruikshank of the 

High School here, and said to be one of the l)e8t Latins in this age, begs me 

to make you his grati^ful acknowledgments for the entertainment ho has got in 

a Latin publication of yours that 1 Iwrrowed for him from your acquaintance, 

and my much-respected friend in this place, the Rev. Dr. \Vel»8ter. Mr. 

Cniikshnnk nuiintains that you write the best Ditin since Buchanan. I leave 

Edinburgh to-morrow, but shall return in three weeks. Your song you 

mentioned in your last, to the tune of " Dumliarton's Drums," and the other, 

whiih you wiy was done by a brother in trade of mine, a ])loughman, I 

shall thank you for a copy of each. — I am ever, reverend sir, with the most 

respectful esteem and sincere veneration, yours, Robert Burns. 

To this communication Mr. Skinner niatle the foUowinjx 
answer : — 

LixsHART, 28M Afril 1788. 

1>KAU Niu, — 1 received your last with llif curious present you have favountl 
me with, antl would have made projHT ackiunvktlgmtMits before now, but that I 
have been neces&irily engaged in matters of a different complexion. And now 
that I have got a little respite, I make use of it to thank you for this valuable 
instance of your good-will, and to assure you that, with the sincere heart of a 
VOL. II. 2 F 


true Scotchman, I highly esteem both your gift and the giver; as a small 
testimony of which I have herewith sent you, for your amusement (and in a 
form, which I hope you will excuse, for saving postage), the two songs I wrote 
about to you already. " Charming Nancy," is the real production of genius in a 
plowman of twenty years of age at the time of its appearing, with no more 
education than what he picked up at an old farmer grandfather's fireside. And, 
I doubt not, you will find in it a simplicity and delicacy, with some turns of 
humour, that will please one of your taste ; at least, it pleased me when I first 
saw it, if that can be any recommendation to it. The other ^ is entirely 
descriptive of my own sentiments, and you may make use of one or both, as you 
shall see good. You will oblige me by presenting my respects to your host, 
Mr. Cruikshank, who has given such high approbation to my poor " Latinity." 
You may let him know that, as I have likewise been a dabbler in Latin poetry, 
I have two things that I would, if he desires it, submit, not to his judgment, 
but to his amusement ; the one, a translation of " Chryste Kirk o' the Green," 
printed at Aberdeen some years ago ; the other, " Batrachomyomachia Homeri 
Latinis vestita cum additamentis," given in lately to Chalmers to print if he 
pleases. Mr. C. will know " Seria non semper delectant, non joca semper. 
Semper delectant seria mixta jocis." I have just room to repeat compliments 
and good wishes, from, sir, your humble servant, John Skinner. 

In the several editions of Mr. Skinner's metrical compositions is 
included a jocund remonstrance with Burns's "Address to a Louse." 
As this satirical composition appears in the Kilmarnock edition, it is 
not improbable that Tullochgorum's strictures upon it had preceded 
the epoch of his correspondence with the writer. But a few of the 
verses may here be introduced not inappropriately : — 

A lousie on a lady's bonnet ! 

Disgracefu' dirgy, fie upon it ! 

An' you, forsooth, to write a sonnet 

On sic a theme ! 
Guid fa' mc, man, I wad na done it 

For a' your fame. 

' Mr. Skinner refers to his composition beginning, " 0, why should old age so much wound us ! " 
written to the tune of "Dumbarton's Drums." 


Xae doubt your bullae's wise and witty ; 
Hut fowks will say it was na prutty 
To yoke sic twa in conjunct ditty, 

Them baith to hit ; 
And ca' you but a twa-fac'd nitty, 

Wi' a' your wit. 

For a' your being a bard of note, 
Ye shou'd na minded sic a mote, 
To mak' a warl's wonner o't, 

As ye hae dane ; 
But past it for an orra spot 

^Vhare't shou'd na been. 

When yo beiauau'd the herryt niousio 
Rinning as gin't had been frae pousio ; 
When couter-nib down-stroy'd her housie, 

Ye pleas'd us a'. 
But thus to lilt about a lousic, 

Black be your fa* ! 

Fouk wad do well to steek their een 
At sights that shou'd na a' be seen, 
Or whan they see, lat jokes alane, 

Gin they had sense; 
For little jokes hae aften gi'en 

Fell great offence. 

Sac, Robie Burns, tak' tent in time. 
And keep mair haivius wi' your rhyme, 
Else you may come to rue the crime 

0' sic a sonnet, 
And wis,s ye had ne'er seen a styme 

0' louse nor bunnoU 


Indifferent to fame as a writer of verses, Mr. Skinner sought to 
excel in another department of letters. In 1746 he published a 
pamphlet in defence of his Church, entitled A Preservative against 
Presbytery. A performance of greater effort, published in 1757, 
gained the unqualified commendation of Bishop Sherlock. In 
this production, entitled, A Dissertation on Jacob's Prophecy, 
which was intended as a supplement to a treatise on the same 
subject by Dr. Sherlock, Mr. Skinner has established, by a critical 
examination of the Hebrew original, that the words in Jacob's 
prophecy' rendered "sceptre" and "lawgiver" in the Authorized 
Version, ought to be translated " tribeship " and " typifier," a 
difference of interpretation which obviates some difficulties respecting 
the exact fulfilment of the prediction. In a pamphlet, printed in 
1767, he further vindicated the claims of the Scottish Episcopal 
Church ; and on this occasion against the alleged misrepresentations 
of Mr. Norman Sievwright, English clergyman at Brechin, wdio had 
published a work reflecting unfavourably on Scottish Episcopacy. His 
most important work. An Ecclesiastical History of Scotland from 
the first Appearance of Christianity in that Kingdom, appeared 
in 1788, in two octavo volumes. This publication, arranged in the 
form of letters, and dedicated in Latin verse to his son. Bishop 
Skinner, did not attain any wide acceptance. His other prose works 
were published in 1809, in two octavo volumes, together with a 
memoir of the author, by his son. Bishop Skinner. These embrace 
" Letters addressed to Candidates for Orders," a " Dissertation on the 
Shekinah," and " An Essay towards a Literal Exposition of the Song 
of Songs." A third volume of his remains was added, containing 
his compositions in Latin verse, and his songs and ballads. 

Though averse to public display, Mr. Skinner was possessed of 
mental energy of a high order. As a clergyman he enjoyed the 

1 Genesis xlix. 10. 

Ki: I . /0//JV sk/xxj:r. -220 

affection of his people. Besitle.s effieiently discliarging his ministerial 
duties, lie gratuitously exercised the function of a physician, having 
attained a knowledge of the healing art during his attendance at the 
University. His pulpit discourses were instructive and edifying, but 
more as the result of his peculiar promptitude than of any laboured 
preparation. He abandoned the aid of the manuscript, on account 
of the untoward occurrence of his notes being scattered by a startled 
fowl in the early part of his ministry. 

Among Mr. Skinner's more cherished correspondents were Dr. 
Gleig, Bishop of Brechin, Dr. Doig of Stilling, and John llam.say 
of Ochtertyre. In 1792 Mr. Iliimsay visited Mr. Skinner at Lins- 
hart, accompanied by Dr. Gleig, and again in 1795, in company 
with Dr. Doig. Of these visits he has presented a narrative, which 
has lately been published. In reference to the visit of 1792, Mr. 
Ramsay writes : — 

Our host mot us at a little distance from the house. His figure was portly 
and pleasing ; liis countenance, considered as an index to his mind, served to 
prepossess us in liis favour. Altliough then in his seventieth year, and lately 
recovered from a painful illness, ho looked like a man of fifty, such was the 
freshness of his appearance, joined to the colour of his hair, which was coal- 
hlack, except two tufts on his cluu'ks which were grey. He then conducted us 
into his house, which was much too mean for such an inhabitant. It is only 
one storey high, like a tenant's mansion, but larger, and ornamented with sash- 
windows. Tlie insiile was somewhat between a minister's manse and a farmer's 
steading. Nothing could be plainer or more primitive than the furniture, and 
we were not a little surprised at not seeing a single chimney in the house— the 
fuel, which is peat, being bumoil on the hearth . . . But what the place 
wanted in amenity, or Iiis mansion in sliow or convenience, wns amply com- 
pensated to us by the originality and brilliancy of our host's conversation, which 
was heightened by the courtesy and cordiality with which he entertained as. 
I had sometimes been in the comj^ny of men of first-rate wit and genius, but 
never saw one whose social hour was moro truly delightful and instructive 
than that of Mr. Skinner. 


In connexion with his visit to Linshart in 1795, Mr. Ramsay 
expresses the satisfaction enjoyed by himself and Dr. Doig in being 
present in his homely place of worship when their venerated friend 
conducted service with much simplicity and earnestness.^ 

In 1799 Mr. Skinner was overwhelmed by a heavy trial in the 
death of his attached wife — his companion for fifty-eight years. To 
his grief he gave expression in a Latin elegy. After a ministry at 
Longside of sixty-five years, Mr. Skinner accepted his son's invita- 
tion to reside with him at Aberdeen. Of his new abode he had 
become an occupant only a few days, when he died, on the 16th 
June 1807, after a very brief illness. His remains were conveyed 
to the churchyard of Longside, and at his grave was afterwards 
reared by his flock a handsome monument, with an inscription, 
strongly testifying as to his pastoral worth and personal virtues. 
Some considerable time before his death Mr. Skinner was appointed 
Dean of Aberdeen, but the title was accepted by him only at 
meetings of the clergy. A work descriptive of Mr. Skinner's 
lAfe and Times, issued in 1883 by the Rev. William Walker, 
Episcopal clergyman at Monymusk, and accompanied with a portrait, 
presents an exhaustive account of his personal history. 

Mr. Skinner married, on the 12th November 1741, Grizel, eldest 
daughter of Mr. John Hunter, Episcopal clergyman at Shetland, with 
issue four sons and six daughters. 

Of the daughters, Christiana and Grizel, twins, the latter first 
of the name, were baptized on 2nd May 1745. 

Elizabeth, baptized 12th July 1746, married Alexander Gum- 
ming, with issue, two sons, John and Robert. Robert died young. 
John, born in 1770, became Mr. Skinner's colleague and successor, 
and in 1834 was elected Dean of Aberdeen. He died in 1849. 

^Scotland and Scotsmen in the Eighteenth Esq. of Ochtortyre, Edinb,, 2 vols, 8vo, 1888, 
Century, from the MSS. of John Ramsay, vol. i. pp. 535-542. 


Grizel, second of the name, baptized 22nd August 1748, married, 
23rd January 1776, William Nicolsou, and proceeded with her 
liusband to Norway.* She died without issue. 

Margaret, baptized 14th October 1753, married without is.sue. 

Mariana, baptized 13th January 1757,* ninrricd without 

James, the eldest son, was born at Sumbroughgerth, Shetland, on 
the 22nd November 1742.' After being some time under the care 
of his grandfather at Echt, he engaged in a seafaring life, but 
eventually settled as a merchant in Philadelphia. Some time 
previous to the year 1789 he died unmarried. 

Marianus, the third son, emigrated to America, and there died 
young and unmarried. 

Alexander, fourth son, baptized at Longside on the 25th February 
1751,* followed his two elder brothers to America, and there died 

John, the second son, was baptized at Longside on tiie 7th May 
1744. Placed under the care of his grandfather at Echt, he there- 
after entered the University of Aberdeen, where he graduated. He 
next became tutor in the family of Sir Hugh Paterson of Bannock- 
burn, while he occupied his leisure in theological studies. At the 
age of twenty he was ordained deacon by Bishop Gerrard of Aber- 
deen, and was soon afterwards instituted in the pastorate of the 
Episcopal church at Ellon. The scanty emoluments of his cure he 
supplemented by renting a farm ; he also improved his condition by 
a prosperous marriage. After efficiently discharging at Ellon the 
pastoral duties for eleven years, he, in 1775, was transferred to the 
incumbency of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church at Aberdeen. On the 

* Mr. John Hunter's " Diary," quoted by Mr. ' LongsiJe Baptismal Register. 

Walker in his /,{/> and Time4. Lond. 1883, * Mr. John Hunter's " Diary." 

2ud oilit, p. 23. * Longside Parish Register. 


25th September 1782 he was consecrated as coadjutor to Bishop 
Kilgour of Aberdeen, on whose resignation in 1786 he became sole 
bishop. The venerable pastor of Linshart was at first named to the 
office, but he recommended the appointment of his son. In 1788 
Bishop Skinner was elected Primus. Along with his father, he, on 
the 29th August 1789, was admitted an honorary burgess of Aber- 
deen. He died in 1816. 

Bishop John Skinner married, 17th August 1765, Mary, only 
daughter of the Rev. William Robertson, incumbent of the Episcopal 
Church, Dundee, and formerly of Longside, with issue five sons and 
three daughters. 

Jean, the eldest daughter, baptized 16th July 1766, died 

Grizel, the second daughter, baptized 26th February 1768, died 
in 1776. 

Mary, the third daughter, baptized 12th June 1771, married 
Alexander Dalgarno, merchant in Aberdeen, with issue two 
daughters, who predeceased their parents. 

Of the Bishop's five sons, two died in infancy. John, the eldest 
surviving son, was born at Ellon, and there baptized on the 20th 
August 1769. Early sent to Linshart, he became a favourite of his 
grandfather, who made rhymes for his diversion. But the youth 
was considerably disconcerted by an alleged poetical prophecy of 
Thomas the Rhymer, which seemed to have some reference to him- 
self. The prediction ran thus : — 

The world shall four John Skinners see : 

The first shall teach a school ; 
The other two shall parsons be ; 

The fourth shall be a fool. 

Determined to overcome the seer's supposed vaticination, the fourth 

A7- / . JOU.\ SKJ\.\ J:R. 233 

John also chose the clorical profession. On the 24th February 1790, 
he received orders, and shortly thereafter he officiated in IJnshart 
chapel at the snnjc diet of worship with his father and ^grandfather. 
'J'he occasion was suital)le for recalling the Rhymer's prophecy, and 
it wjvs done hy the genial grandfather in lines of elegant 
Latin : — 

Sanguinis ojusdem ives impleut roHtra Joannes, 
Est rtr/«, est jHiifr, est cams utri<nic n/^jMm ; 
Ingonuo p'imim sernionis Inudc hocimhUis 
Claret ; in nnjl)obus tniim ille nitct. 
Non potuero ultra Naturae tondere vires, 
Miscet Avo Putretn, ot fingitur inde NeposI 

By a friend of the grandson these lines were thus rendered in 
Ensrlish : — 


of the same blood in pulpit now tfiref Johns appear, — 

Grandfather, father, and (alike to both) a grandson dear : 

The jirst for genius, tho second for the preacher's art, 

In lx»th of which the third now plays a shining part ; 

The powers of Nature's self no further stretch could bear. 

The son she with the father blends, and does the grandt>on rear. 

John Skinner, eldest grandson of the T.ongsidf pastor, com- 
menced his ministry in charge of the small Episcopal congregation at 
Montrose. The revenues of the cure were miserably attenuated, 
but, after a brief interval, a more 8atisfa(;tory apix>intment offered 
at Banff. It was accepted, much to the annoyance of the adherents 
of the ]Montrose chapel, some of whom rudely gave out that their 
minister had left them in the hope of prospering by the ham-curing 
wealth of his Bantf hearers. The imputation reached the cars 
of the young minister and vexed him, but when *' Tullochgorum " 

heard of the foolish imputation, he subdued his grandson's 
VOL. n. 2 Q 


chagrin, and intensified that of his accusers, by composing these 
lines : — 

Had Skinner been of carnal mind, 

As strangely ye suppose ; 
Or had he e'en been fond of swine, 

He ne'er had left i\Iontrose, 

In 1797 Mr. Skinner became incumbent of the Episcopal church 
of Forfar. He subsequently obtained ecclesiastical rank as Dean of 
Dunkeid and Dunblane. 

In 1818 he issued an octavo volume entitled, Annals of 
Scottish Episccrpacy from 1788 to 1816, accompanied with a memoir 
of his father. He died 2nd September 1841. He married, first, 
19th August 1798, Elizabeth, daughter of John Ure, sheriff-clerk 
and Provost of Forfar.^ The event was celebrated by the incumbent 
of Longside in a poem of fifty- three lines, which has been included 
in the third volume of his posthumous works. 

Mrs. Skinner succumbed to a consumptive ailment on the 12th 
May 1820, and Mr. Skinner married, secondly, in 1822, Innes, 
eldest daughter of John Duff, merchant, Dundee, by his wife, Anne 
Ogilvy, elder daughter of Sir John Ogilvy, fourth baronet of Inver- 
quharity ; she was born 8th October 1780, and died 23rd April 
1872, at the age of ninety-two. 

By his first marriage the Rev. John Skinner had issue six sons 
and four daughters. 

Margaret, the eldest daughter, was born 12th May 1799, and 
died 24th November 1800. 

Mary Robertson, second daughter, born 11th April 1802, died 
7th February 1817. 

Anne Strachan, third daughter, was born 2nd September 1810. 

' Forfar MaiTiage Register. 


Grace Jane, fourtli daughter, was born 22ntl January 1817. 

John, the eldest son, born 24th August 1800, engaged in 
merchandise at CaloutUi, and there died in 1844. He married Mary 
Ortvin Elizabeth, daujjjhter of Hope Steuart of I^llechin, Perthshire, 
with issue four sons and two daughters. 

John, the eldest son, born in 1837, assumed his mother's family 
name on succeeding his maternal grandfather in the estate of 
Ballechin. He married, in 1862, Ctiroline Anna, daughter of Sir 
Albert de H. Larpent, Bart., witli issue John Malcolm, bom in 

(Jeorge lire, second sou of Dean Skinner, l>y his first wit'c, 
Elizabeth Ure, was born 18th March 1804. Settling as a merchant 
at Guatemala, in Central America, he attiiined opulence. Devoted 
to scientific pursuits, he became eminent as a naturalist, introducing 
into Great Britain, from the wilds of Guatemala, some of the finest 
Urehidaceje. (_)f these are named after him — Barker ia Skinnen, 
Catfh'i/a Skhineri, LycaMe Skiniieri, and several others. Among 
his rarer discoveries is the beautiful Odontoglossum grrtmlc. An 
intelligent ornithologist, he introduced into this country from 
( 1 uatemala about twenty species of birds. While at Paraiso, near 
Panama, where he had gone in search of the scarlet passion-flower, 
which he there found, he was seized with yellow fever, and died after 
a short illness on the 9th January 1867. By his wife, a daughter 
of the Rev. Oliver liayniond, rector of Middleton. Essex, he had two 
daughters, who are both married, with i.ssue. 

William, third son of Dean Skinner, born 8th August 1806, 
practised as an advocate in Aberdeen ; he there died in 1861. He 
married Emily Forsyth, with issue four sons and a daughter. 
John, his eldest son, is a merchant in Calcuttii ; he is married 
with issue. 

Charles Binny, fourth son of Dean Skinner, was born 2l8t 


August 1808. Formerly a merchant in Calcutta, he now resides at 
57 Eccleston Square, London. He married, in 1830, Frances Mary, 
daughter of Lieutenant - Colonel Charles Andrewes, 13th Light 
Dragoons, with issue three sons and five daughters. 

James, sixth son of Dean Skinner, was born at Forfar on the 
23rd June 1818. In 1832 he became a student of Marischal 
College, and in the following year entered the UniA^ersity of 
Durham, where he afterwards graduated. After some time acting 
as one of the Masters of King William's College, Isle of Man, he 
took orders in the English Church. In July 1845 he was appointed, 
chaplain of the military prison at Southsea, and in the following year 
he became military chaplain at Corfu. On his return to England he 
accepted the curacy of St. Barnabas, Pimlico, and after some changes 
was instituted in the Church living of Newland, Malvern Link, 
where he ministered till his death, which took place on the 29th 
December 1881. A noted ritualist, Mr. Skinner was eminently 
devoted in his ministerial labours.^ He married, on the 18th July 
1848, Agnes, daughter of the Rev. Oliver Raymond, rector of 
Middleton, Essex, with issue a daughter, Agnes Raymond, who died 
on the 6th February 1868, in her eighteenth year. 

Alexander, second son of Bishop John Skinner, was born at 
Aberdeen, and there baptized on the 19th December 1775. In 
emigrating to America he was lost at sea. 

William, third and youngest son, was born at Aberdeen on the 
27th October 1778.^ Ordained a deacon in 1802, and a priest in 
1803, he was elected Bishop of Aberdeen 27th October 1816, and 
on the 2nd June 1841 was chosen Primus. He died 15th April 
1857. By his wife, Jean Johanna, daughter of James Brand, 
cashier of the Aberdeen Banking Company, he had a daughter, 

' JawAn Skimmr, A Memoir, by the Author of Charles Lowdtr, Loud. 1883. 
' Aljcidceu Parisli Register. 


Mary. Born in 180G, ahe married, 2Gtli June 1832, the Rev. Duvi«l 
Wilson, Dean of Aberdeen, and died 14th October 1864. Of the 
marriage were born six sons and five daugliters. 

James, the eldest son, has settled as an estate agent in New 
South Wales. 

William, the seeond son, B.A. of Oriel College, Oxford, was 
incumbent of Meniwa, New South Wales, and attained to a position 
of influence in the English Church of Australia ; he died in 1883, 
at the age of forty-seven. 

David, third son, is H.M. Coniniissioncr f<»r the Nortliern 
Province of Trinidad. 

Alexander, fourth son, is senior partner in the firm of Jardine, 
Skiimer, & Co., merchants, Calcutta. As High Sheriff of Calcutta, 
he in 1887 received the honour of knighthood. 

Charles, fifth son, died young. 

John Skinner, sixth son, is B.A. of St. Catherine's College, Cam- 
l)ri(lg»'. In 1872 he was appointed incumbent of Christ's Church, 
Kincardine O'Neil ; in 1876, assistant and successor to his father at 
All Saints, Woodhead, Fyvie, and in 1885 incumbent of St. 
Cieorge's Chapel, Eilinburgh. 

Johanna, eldest daughter, married, in .lunc loGi, the Kcv. A. 
A. Jenkins, incumbent of St. Peter's Church, Galashiels. Mary, 
second daughter, born in January 1840, died in infancy. Mary 
(Irace, third daughter, is unmarried. Elizidjcth Hargreavc, fourth 
daughter, is unmarried. Alice Gordon, fifth daughter, married, in 
\ugust 1881, George Grant, merchant, Trinidad. 

John Skinner, schoolmaster of Echt (father of the author of 

TuUochgorum "), married, secondly, on the 10th July 1735, 

Elizabeth Cattanach; * she died in 1775. Of the marriage were 

born four sons ; also three daughters — Sophia, baptized 10th July 

> Echt Parish R.-gi8tcr. 


1738 ; Jean, baptized 3rd April 1740 ; and Henrietta, baptized 30th 
April 1747/ 

Thomas, first son of the marriage, baptized 6th May 1736, 
graduated M.A. at the University of St. Andrews in 1753. He 
became parish schoolmaster of Banchory Ternan, and there died in 
1816, without leaving issue. William, the second son, was born 5th 
September 1742, and died, without issue, on the 26th December 
1772. Robert, the third son, was born 18th February 1745, and 
died 8th November 1767, without issue. James, fourth son of John 
Skinner and Elizabeth Cattanach, was born at Echt, on the 23rd 
March 1751. Engaging in legal pursuits, he became a Writer to the 
Signet. He died at Edinburgh on the 10th February 1840, at the 
age of eighty-nine. In 1779 he married Janet, daughter of the 
Kev. William Forbes, minister of the Episcopal church, Mussel- 
burgh, with issue a son, John Robert, born in 1786. He practised 
as a Writer to the Signet, and died in 1849. He married, in 1814, 
Anne Black of Brechin (who died in 1868), with issue three sons. 

William, of Corra, the eldest son, born in 1823, is a Writer to 
the Signet. He was some time one of the magistrates of Edinburgh, 
and is now town-clerk of the city. He married, first, in 1850, 
Joanna Kirk of Drumstenhall, Kirkcudbright (who died 1866), with 
issue three sons, Robert Riddell Kirk, William, and Charles ; also 
three daughters ; secondly, in 1880, Charlotte Enmengarde Warren, 
co-heiress of Longford, Market Drayton, Shropshire, with issue a 
son, Percy, and a daughter, Nora. 

Thomas, second son of John Robert Skinner, W.S., born in 1825, 
is a doctor of medicine. He married, in 1859, Hannah, co-heiress 
of Henry Hilton of Fairgirth, Kirkcudbrightshire, with issue a son, 
Hilton, born 1862, and a daughter, Agnes. 

Robert, third son of John Robert Skinner and Anne Black, was 

^ Edit Parish Register. 


born in 1827. A clerk in ordors, he holds office as chaplain to the 
British Legation at Berno. He married Annie II. Sangster of 
Aberdeen/ with issue four sons and five daughters. Thomas, tln^ 
•'Mest son. rcsidi's i?i ('alcnfta. 


The surname of Sniuliie, formerly Smyllie and Smallie, is of uncer- 
tain derivation. The lodge of St. Mary's Chapel have in keeping a 
deed of submission between certain members of the joumejnnen 
masons and the deacons of the wrights and ma.sons, dated 8th 
January 1715; among the latter appearing the name of William 
Smellie, described as *' present deacon of the masons of Edinburgh." 
William Smellie obtained considerable opulence, and, being a person 
of exemplary character, was elected an elder of the Tolbooth parish. 
He was succeeded in business by his son Alexander, who also prac- 
tised as an architect. From his own design he erected the Martyrs* 
Tomb in the Greyfriars Churchyard. 

Alexander Smellie had two sons and three daughters. John, 
tlie_ elder son, followed the building trade, and considerably pro- 
spered ; he married Agnes, sister of Mr. James Ferrier, Clerk of 
Session. Ann, the eldest daughter, married Mr. Mabon, a ship- 
master in Leith ; Helen, the second daughter, died unmarried ; 
and Elizabeth, the third daughter, married Mr. Dutf, merchant in 

William Smellie, the younger son, forms the subject of the present 
memoir. Born in the Pleasance, a suburb of Edinburgh, in 1 740, 
he received his elementary education at the parish school of 

> AberUetn Parish Register. 


Duddingston, and at the age of ten entered the High School. By 
his parents intended for the occupation of a staymaker, he was 
rescued from this untoward calling by a difference between his 
father and his proposed master as to the terms of his indenture. 
On the 1st of October 1752 he was apprenticed to Messrs. Hamilton, 
Balfour, & Neil, printers, and with the permission of his employers 
he attended classes in the University ; he also devoted his evenings 
to self-improvement. When in 1757 the Philosophical Society 
offered a prize for the most accurate edition of a Latin classic, he 
produced a duodecimo edition of Terence, set up as well as edited 
by himself, which procured the honours of the competition, a silver 
medal, to the printing firm which he served. With a view to 
improving his circumstances, he, in September 1759, entered into 
an engagement with Messrs. Murray & Cochrane, printers, as a 
corrector of the press, and as assistant in the editing of the Scots 
Magazine. Ardent in the pursuit of knowledge, he continued his 
attendance on University classes, including those of theology and 
medicine. And that he might intelligently superintend the printing 
of Professor Robertson's Hebrew grammar, he attended the Univer- 
sity class of Oriental languages. To the study of botany devoting 
special attention, he in 1765 produced a dissertation on the sexes 
of plants, in which he opposed the opinions of Linnaeus ; it secured 
the gold medal of Dr. Hope, Professor of Botany in the University, 
and was afterwards published in the Encylopsedia Bintannica. 
When Professor Hope was by illness incapacitated for his duties as a 
lecturer, he entrusted his class duties to Mr. Smellie. A printing 
partnership which he entered into with Robert and William Auld in 
1765 was connected with the publication of the Weehly Journal, 
which he personally edited, but the concern, proving unprofitable, 
was dissolved in 1771. 

As Lord Karnes was passing through the press of Messrs. Murray 

U ILL! AM SiMhLLlh. 241 

& Cochrane, the sheets of liis iLleDU^nts of Criticism, his Lorclship 
receivetl ti series of anonymous criticisms on the work which much 
interested him. Havinp; discovered that Mr. Smellio was the writer, 
lie became deeply concerned in his welfare, and on his forming in 
1771 a pjutnorship with Mr. Balfour in the printing business, he pro- 
vided him with a cash credit for £300 ; this partnership, after sub- 
sisting for eleven years, wjis dissolved in 1782, Among the works 
issued from the press of Messrs. lialfour & Smellie was Dr. William 
Ruchan's Domestic Medicine ; it was, prior to being placed in the 
hands of the compositoi-s, wholly re-written by Mr. Smellie, and 
matorinlly improved by his suggestions. Hy their correspondence 
it appears that Dr. Buchan entertained so high an opinion of his 
coadjutor that he urged him to abandon business, and qualify 
liimself as a physician. While he declined this counsel, he was 
induced to further familiarize himself with the science of medicine; 
also to engnge with increased ardour in the study of natund 

When in 1771 the Encyclopedia Britannica wtis started, Mr. 
Smellie was by the projectors, Mr. Andrew Bell and Mr. Colin 
Macfarquhar, retained as editor and compiler ; he composed the 
])iincipal articles in the work, and revised all the others, while his 
remuneration in connexion with the entire work, which extended to 
thro(» (juarto volumes, did not exceed two hundred pounds. In 1773 
Mr. Smellie, in conjunction with Dr. Gilbert Stuart, commenced the 
Edinlnirgh Magazine and Review^ and, notwithstanding the impru- 
dent and reckless conduct of his literary collaborateur, he continue<l 
to carry on the serial till the completion of the fifth volume in 1776. 
When in 1775 the chair of Natund History in the University 
l)»M\ame vacant, he offered himself jvs a candidate, and obtained a 
large measure of support, but Dr. John Walker of Moflat was ulti- 
mately preferred. In 1781 he was appointed Superintendent of the 
VOL. n. 2 u 


Museum of Natural History in connexion with the Society of 
Antiquaries, of which he was an original member. His annotated 
translation of BufFon's Natural History, in nine octavo volumes, 
commenced in 1780, was completed in the following year ; it passed 
into five successive editions. 

In 1783 Mr. Smellie issued an Account of the Institution and 
Progress of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and to this 
added a second part in the following year. He was appointed 
printer to the Society, and afterwards secretary. On behalf of the 
institution he prepared a plan for procuring a statistical account of 
Scottish parishes, and upon his method the undertaking was after- 
wards carried out by the parochial clergy, under the patriotic 
auspices of Sir John Sinclair. When Burns came to Edinburgh in 
November 1786, Mr. Smellie was associated in a printing partner- 
ship with Mr. Creech, and when the latter had arranged with the 
Poet to publish his second edition, he conducted him into their 
printing-office. The business was carried on at the foot of the 
Anchor Close, and there the Poet frequently presented himself, not 
more to receive and correct the proof-sheets of his poems, than 
to hold converse with the accomplished printer. An anecdote 
illustrative of the Poet's reputation at this early stage of his career 
has been related on the authority of Mr. Alexander Smellie, the 
printer's son. In correcting his proof-sheets Burns was in the habit 
of occupying a particular stool, which became known by his name. 
As he one day came to the office to engage in the usual revision, his 
f\xvourite stool was occupied by Sir John Dalrymple, whose Essay on 
the Properties of Coal Tar was then being printed. On receiving 
his proofs, the Poet looked about for his stool, and was requested to 
enter the composing-room. When he had gone, one of the atten- 
dants offered Sir John another seat, remarking that the stool he 
sat upon was to be used by the person who had just entered. " No, 


I won't give up my scut Lu that impudent staring fellow," said the 
Baronet. " That is Robert Burns," replied the attendant. " Burns ! " 
said Sir .Tolui, ri.sii)<^' up. "Let him have nil the scats in your 

Singularly industrious both in the exercise of his vocation as a 
printer, also in his literary and scientific pursuits, Mr. Smellie loved 
recreation, and was abundantly convivial. There was at the head 
of the narrow alley in which he worked his types a famous tavern 
kept by Daniel Douglas, a native of the Highlands. In this place 
of antique construction, which on some solitary occasion had Ijcen 
occupied by Queen Mary, the principal lawyers and merchants 
assembled socially. Douglas's tavern was consequently the liead- 
(juarters of several festive clubs, among which was one largely 
patronized and partly originated by Mr. Smellie, called the " Croch- 
allan Fenciblcs." In the designation the word "Fencibles" was 
introduced so as to facetiously identify the club with the Feucible 
regiments then being raised for defence of the country. The name 
Crochallan was a conceit of Mr. Smellie, founded on a Gaelic song, 
Chro Challin, "the cattle of Colin," sung by the jovial landlord for 
the delectation of his guests. One of the unwritten canons of the 
club was that each nomis or candidate should at admission be sub- 
jected to a species of rough handling, in order to test his social 
qualities. When, in January 1787, Burns was, on Mr. Smellie's 
introduction, initiated as a member, he was made to encounter the 
usual ordeal, which, in supposed evidence of his fitness, he endured 
patiently. But when subsequently Mr. Smellie, as the club's 
" executioner," assailed the new member with his wonted irony, 
he found the Poet in all respects qualified to cope with him in his 
most caustic sallies. As the Poet and the printer were found to be 
adepts in social fence, the brethren of the corps delighted to enjoy 
their rough tilting, and so promoted and prolonged it. In allusion 


to Mr. Smellie's vigorous liome-thrusts, the Poet composed these 
impromptu lines : — 

Shrewd Willie Smellie to Crochallan came ; 
The old cock'd hat, the grey surtout, the same ; 
His bristlnig beard just rising in its might, 
'Twas four long nights and days till shaving night ; 
His uncomb'd grizzly locks, wild staring, thatch'd 
A head for thought profound and clear unmatch'd ; 
Yet, though his caustic wit was biting rude, 
His heart was warm, benevolent, and good. 

Long after he had bid adieu to Edinburgh and its socialities, the 
Poet remembered Mr. Smellie with a deep affection. Writing in 
March 1791 to Mr. Peter Hill, along with a ewe-milk cheese, which 
he facetiously described as a cure for dyspepsia, he counselled him 
on this account to invite to share it certain of their common friends. 
Among these he names Mr. Smellie. He proceeds : — 

There, in my eye, is our friend Smellie ; a man positively of the first abilities 
and greatest strength of mind, as well as one of the best hearts and keenest 
wits that I have ever met with ; when you see him — as, alas ! he too often is, 
smarting at the pinch of distressful circumstances, aggravated by the sneer of 
contumelious greatness, a bit of my cheese alone will not cure him, but if you 
add a tankard of brown stout, and superadd a magnum of right Oporto, you will 
see his sorrows vanish like the morning mist before the summer sun. 

With Mr. Smellie the Poet is known to have maintained an 
occasional correspondence, but the letters have, with a single excep- 
tion, been lost. That exception is a letter introducing to Mr. 
Smellie the ingenious Mrs. Riddel of Woodley Park, in reference to 
his proposal to give to the world her Sketches of the Natural 
History of Madeira and the Leeward Isles. The letter is dated at 
Dumfries, 22nd January 1792, and concludes thus :— 


I will not proMiut yuu with tho unniuoning " complimcntA of Uie season," 
but I will scnil you my warmest wishes and most ardent prayers that Fortune 
may never throw your subsistence to tho mercy of a knave, or sot your character 
on the judgment of a fool ; but tliat, upright and erect, you may walk to an 
honest gmve, where men of letters shall say, *' Hero lies a man who did honor 
to science," and men of worth shall say, " Here lies o nmn who did honor to 
human nature." 

At Mi*s. Riddel's invitation, Mr. Smcllie visited her and bor 
husband at Woodley Park in September 1792. At Dumfries lie 
was presented with the freedom of the burgh, and at a banquet 
entertained by the magistrates and principal inhabitants. Mr. 
Smellie became the printer of Mrs. Riddel's work, and entered into 
a pleasant correspondence with her, which was maintained up to the 
period of his death. 

Mr. Smellie's literary activities were unceasing, in 1784 he 
issued a tract, On the NaturCy Powers, and Pnvileges of J^iries, 
which was commended by Lord Erskine ; he also published pam- 
phlets in relation to local affairs. Of his great work, Tfic Philosophy 
of Nahiral Ilistoiy, the first volume, a substantia quarto, appeared 
in 1790, the publisher, Mr. Charles Elliot of Edinburgh, paying for 
the copyright one thousand guineiis. A second volume was issued 

Mr. Smellie died, after a protracted illness, on the 24th June 
1795, at the age of sixty-five. An accomplished classical scholar 
and brilliant conversationalist, he was much cherished in literary 
circles. Though of a strong will and decided in his opinions, he 
maintained an even temper, and enjoyed the perfect confidence of 
his friends. AVith many persons eminent in science and letters he 
was in habits of intimacy, and he had meditated a series of memoii-s 
commemorative of several of them. Memoirs from his pen of Lord 
Kamcs, Dr. John Gregory, David Hume, and Dr. Adam Smith, 


were published posthumously. His personal memoirs, composed by 
Mr. Robert Kerr, F.R.S., were issued in 1811 in two octavo 
volumes. His portrait is included in the collection contained \\\ the 
Scottish National Portrait Gallery. 

Mr. Smellie married, in 1763, Jean, daughter of John Robertaou, 
a native of Cromarty, and of the union were bom six sons and seven 

Alexander, the second son, who succeeded to his father's business, 
evinced strong literary tastes. He married with issue. Thoma.s, 
the third son, was author of a meritorious translation of the works 
of Tacitus. He died in February 1795, in his twentieth year. By 
his literary associate. Dr. Alexander Murray, the eminent philolo- 
gist, he was" commemorated in a graceful elegy, which contains 
these stanzas : — 

Too good, too dear, with ev'ry virtue blest, 

Friend of my heart, for ever from me fled ! 
where, in yon all-hallow'd land of rest, 

Lift'st thou on high thy mild, thy honour'd head 1 

O'er thy green turf, each slow revolving year, 

I'll heave the sigh to early merit due ; 
And dreary add poor friendship's sacred tear, 

For ne'er was one more hapless nor more true. 

John, the fourth son, served first in the merchant service, after- 
wards in the Royal Navy ; he latterly commanded a gun-vessel, and 
died at Sheerness in October 1799. 

Mr. Smellie's eldest daughter married Mr. George Watson of 
Edinburgh, the eminent portrait - painter, by whom she had a 
numerous family. 



Robert Smith, a prosperous merchant in the village of Mauchline, 
was, about the year 1775, killed by falling from his horse. He left 
a widow and two children. His widow, described in the parish 
register as Mrs. Jean Smith, married, on the 11th March 1777, Mr. 
James Lamie, merchant in Mauchline ; ^ of the union a son, James, 
was born on the 6th August 1780.^ 

Robert Smith's children were a son, James, and a daughter, Jean. 

Jean Smith was born on the 3rd April 1767.^ Celebrated by the 
Poet in 1784 for her "wit," or common sense, she, ten years there- 
after, became the wife of her celebrator's schoolfellow and corre- 
spondent, Mr. James Candlish.^ 

James, only son of Robert Smith, was born on the 1st March 
1765,® and, on his mother's second marriage, was reared under the 
care of his stepfather, Mr. Lamie. This gentleman cherished a 
fervent piety, but unhappily indulged therewith austere manners, 
with the result that young Smith was repelled from the domestic 
hearth. He removed to lodgings, and, having acquired his patri- 
mony, he, in the Back Causeway, rented a small shop in which he 
conducted business as a linen-draper. In 1785 he appears as one of 
the Poet's principal associates. When in that year Burns established 
at Mauchline his Court of Equity, or Bachelors' Club, Mr. Smith was 
nominated one of the officers. Each officer was assigned a legal title, 
and Mr. Smith was nominated Procurator-Fiscal. At the Fiscal's 
cost the Poet perpetrated a cruel epitaph, which was not, however, 
intended for publicity beyond the walls of the Whitefoord Arms. 
When, in the spring of 1786, the Poet got into trouble in connexion 

' Mauchline Parisli l^egister. ' Ibid. > Ibid. 

* See article James Candlish. ^ Mauchline Parish Register. 


witli tlie Armour family, the " Fiscal " clung to him with a generous 
friendship. Writing to John Richmond at Edinburgh, on tlie l7th 
February 1786, the Poet remarks, " I am entirely happy with 
Smith ; he is the only friend I have now in ^Iau(;hline." He 
acknowledged his friend's regard by making him, in the Kilmarnock 
edition, the subject of a commendatory " Epistle," an honour which 
in his turn Mr. Smith acknowledged by securing subscribers for 
forty copies of the Poet's volume. 

Driven to extremity by the violent procedure of Mr. Armour, 
Burns, in a letter to Mr. Smith, informed him of his fixed determina- 
tion to leave the country, and not to acknowledge Jean Armour as his 
wife. But, in milder strain, he concludes with these words : "If 
you see Jean, tell her I will meet her, so help me God." ' Through 
Mr. Smith's interposition the lovers met, and then it was that the 
Poet ffave to his beloved Jean a written acknowledgment of marriaf^c. 
And when afterwards, in the exercise of an infatuated revenfi^e, Mr. 
Armour persuaded his daughter to destroy the precious document 
which restored her to society, and renewed against his future son- 
in-law the cruel appliances of the law, the Poet experienced in Mr. 
Smith's active friendship a protection and a solace. In a letter to 
Mr. Smith, written from Mossgiel on the 14th of August, he informs 
him that his departure for the West Indies had been unexpectedly 
delayed. He writes : — 

My Dear Sir,— I went to Dr. Douglas yesterday, fully resolved to take 
the opportunity of Captain Smith ; but I found the Doctor with a Mr. and 
Mrs. White, both Jamaicans, and they have deranged my plans altogether. 
They assure him that to send me from Savannah la Mar to Port Antonio will 
cost my master, Charles Douglas, upwards of fifty pounds; besides running the 
risk of throwing myself into a pleuritic fever in consequence of hard travelling 

1 This letter by the Poet to Mr. Smith is undated ; it is published in fragment l,y Mr. 



in the sun. On these accounts he refuses sending me with Smith, but a vessel 
sails from Greenock the first of September, right for the place of my destination. 
The captain of her is an intimate friend of Mr. Gavin Hamilton, and as good a 
fellow as heart could Avish ; Avith him I am destined to go. Where I shall 
shelter 1 know not, but I hope to weather the storm. Perish the drop of blood 
of mine that fears them ! I know their worst, and am prepared to meet it — 

" I'll laugh, an' sing, an' shake my leg, 
As lang's I dow." 

On Thursday morning, if you can muster as much self-denial as to be out of 
bed about seven o'clock, I shall see you as I ride through to Cumnock. After 
all, Heaven bless the sex ! I feel there is still happiness for me among them — 

" woman, lovely woman ! Heaven designed you 
To temper man ! we had been brutes without you." 

The same course of irregular wooing which induced the Poet to 
seriously resolve on quitting the island, led his friend Smith to 
remove from Mauchline. An affair cognizable by the kirk-session 
involved him in social trouble, and also arrested his commercial 
progress. A new scene was needful, and it was at once sought for. 
Disposing of his stock-in-trade, he proceeded from Mauchline to 
Linlithgowshire, and there, on the banks of the Avon, started, in 
partnership with one Miller, the business of calico-printing. 

On his return to the west country from his first Edinburgh 
visit, the Poet communicated with Mr. Smith. In a letter dated 
Mauchline, 11th June 1787, and commencing, "My ever dear Sir," 
he familiarly reports that he had waited upon old friends, including 
Mr. Smith's mother, sister, and brother. After expressing his 
"disgust" at what he styles "the mean servile compliance of the 
Armour family," he proceeds : — 

I cannot settle to my mind. Farming, the only thing of which I know 
anything, and heaven above knows, but little do I understand of that, I cannot, 
dare not risk on farms as they are. If I do not fix, I will go [in] for Jamaica. 
VOL. II. 2 I 


Should I stay in an unseltloa state at home, I would only dissiiMite n.y litUc 
fortune, and ruin what I intend shall compensate my little ones for tho stigma 
I have brought on their names. 

The Poet's next letter to Mr. Smith, dated 30th Juue 1787, 
was written during the course of a visit to Dunbartonsliirc. After 
detailing some convivial experiences, he proceeds : — 

I have yet fixed on nothing with respect to the serious business of life. I 
am, just as usual, a rhyming, mason-making, rattling, aimless, idle fellow. 
However, I shall somewhere have a farm soon. I was going to say a wife too ; 
but that must never be my blessed lot. ... I am afraid I have almost ruined 
one source, the principal one, indeed, of ray former happiness— tliat eternal 
propensity I always had to fall in love. My heart no more glows with feverish 
raptures, I have no paradisiacal evening interviews, stolen from the restless cares 
and prying inhabitants of this weary world. 

On the 25th August, that is, about two months after the date of his 
Dunbartonshire letter, the Poet, accompanied by Mr. William Nicol, 
left Edinburgh for the Northern Highlands. Halting at Linlithgow, 
the companions proceeded after dinner to Avon Printfield, in the hope 
of causing by the visit an agreeable surprise to the junior partner. 
But Mr. Smith was unhappily absent, a circumstance which led the 
Poet to make in his Journal the following entry : — *' Go to my friend, 
Mr. Smith's, at Avon Printfield — find nobody but Mrs. Miller, an 
agreeable, sensible, modest, good body ; as useful, but not so 
ornamental as Fielding's Miss Western — not rigidly polite a la 
Frangaise, but easy, hospitable, and housewifely." 

In a rambling letter, dated Mauchline, 28th April 1788, the 
Poet informs Mr. Smith that he had privately married Jean Armour. 
He adds : — 

Now for business. I intend to present Mrs. Burns with a jmnted shawl, an 
article of which, I daresay, you have variety ; 'tis my first present to her since I 
have irrevocably called her mine ; and I have a kind of whimsical wish to get 


the first said present from an old and vahied friend of hers and mine — a trusty 
Trojanj whose friendship I count myself possessed of as a liferent lease. 

Not improbably Mr. Smith was unable to execute his friend's 
commission, for the printfield concern had fallen into an entire 
collapse. Mr. Smith afterwards proceeded to Jamaica, and there 
died at an early age. Of a most generous nature, and possessing no 
inconsiderable acuteness, he sacrificed to social pleasures hours and 
opportunities, of which the more rational improvement might have 
conduced to fortune. 


Prior to the middle of the eighteenth century, three enterprising 
brothers, natives of Scotland, migrating to London, there engaged 
in literary and journalistic concerns. Charles, the eldest brother, 
became a dramatic writer, and as such attained a measure of reputa- 
tion. Peter, the second brother, started the Evening Star, a daily 
journal, set on foot consequent on the facilities afforded by the mail 
system established by Mr. Palmer. Mr. Peter Stuart was editor 
and one of the proprietors of the Star when Burns issued his 
Kilmarnock edition. Possessing himself of a copy, he had v/ritten 
to the Poet more than once without receiving an acknowledgment. 
At length, awakening to a sense of his shortcoming. Burns com- 
municated with his admirer in these terms : — 

Edinburgh, Fehiiary 1787. 
My Dear Sir, — You may think, and too justly, that I am a selfish, ungrateful 
fellow, having received so many repeated instances of kindness from you, and 
yet never putting pen to paper to say, thank you ; but if you knew what a devil 


of a life my conscience has led me on that account, your good heart would 
think yourself too much avenged. By the by, there is nothing in the whole 
frame of man which seems to me so unaccountable as that thing called con- 
science. Had the troublesome yelping cur powers efficient to prevent a mischief, 
he might be of use ; but, at the beginning of the business, his feeble edorts are 
to the workings of passion as the infant frosts of an autumnal morning to the 
unclouded fervour of the rising sun : and no sooner are the tumultuous doings 
of the wicked deed over, than, amidst the bitter consotiuences of folly, in the 
very vortex of our horrors, up starts conscience and harrows us with the feelings 
of the damned. I have enclosed you, by way of expiation, some verse and 
prose, that, if they merit a place in your truly entertaining miscellany, you are 
welcome to. 

Then follows the Poet's inscription for the tombstone of Robert 
Fergusson, to be erected at his grave in tlie Canongate Church- 
yard, together with a copy of the minute of authority from the 
managers of the churchyard, authorizing him to proceed with the 

To Mr. Stuart, as editor of the Evening Star^ Bums addressed 
his celebrated letter animadverting on his parish minister, Mr. 
Joseph Kirkpatrick of Dunscore, who had, on the 5th November 
1788, being the day appointed for celel)rating the event of the 
Revolution, indulged in strong invective against the memory of the 
Stuart kings. In this letter the Poet uses these words : — 

The Stuarts only contended for prerogatives which they knew their pre- 
decessors enjoyed, and Avhich they saw their contemporaries enjoying ; but these 
prerogatives were inimical to the happiness of a nation, and the rights of 
subjects. In this contest between prince and jieople, the consequence of that 
light of science which had lately dawned over Europe, the monarch of France, 
for example, was victorious over the struggling liberties of his jieople ; with us, 
luckily, the monarch failed, and his unwarrantable pretensions fell a sacrifice to 
our rights and happiness. \Miether it was owing to the wisdom of leading 
individuals, or to the justling of parties, I cannot pretend to determine; but, 
likewise happily for us, the kingly power was shifted into another branch of 


the family, who, as they owed the throne solely to the call of a free people, 
could claim nothing inconsistent with the covenanted terms which placed them 

Maintaining his epistolary intercourse with the editor of the 
Star, the Poet seems from time to time to have communicated 
to him certain snatches of verse. These included his quaint and 
humorous sally, entitled " A New Psalm for the Chapel of Kilmar- 
nock on the Thanksgiving Day for his Majesty's Recovery," also his 
" Sketch in Verse, inscribed to the Right Hon. Charles James Fox." 
In subsequently communicating his " Ode to Delia," he accompanied 
it with the following communication in prose : — 

Ellisland, X'^th May 1789. 

To the Editor of the Star. — If the productions of a simple ploughman can 
merit a place in the same paper with Sylvester Otway, and the other favourites 
of the Muses who illuminate the Star with the lustre of genius, your insertion 
of the enclosed trifle will be succeeded by future communications from yours, 
etc. R. Burns. 

The tombstone in honour of Robert Fergusson, respecting which 
the Poet had communicated with Mr. Stuart in 1787, was com- 
pleted in the summer of 1789, and in August of that year a notice 
of the erection appeared in the Scots Magazine. Remarking that 
notice, Mr. Stuart again communicated with the Bard. In its 
curtailed form, as presented by Dr. Currie, Mr. Stuart's letter is 
subjoined : — 

London, bth Augtcst 1789. 

My Dear Sir, — Excuse me when I say, that the uncommon abilities which 
you possess must render your correspondence very acceptable to any one. 
I can assure you I am particularly proud of your partiality, and shall 
endeavour, by every method in my power, to merit a continuance of your 


politeness. . . . IVlien you can spare a few moment^ T slmuld be proud of a 
letter from you, directed for me, Gerard Street, Soho. . . . 

I cannot express my happiness sufficiently at the instance of your attach- 
ment to my late inestimable friend. Bob Fergusson, who was particularly 
intimate with myself and relations. While I recollect with plcjisure his 
extraordinary talents and many amiable qualities, it affords me the greatest 
consolation that I am honoured with the corresiwndence of his successor in 
natural simplicity and genius. That Mr. Burns has refined in the art of i)oetry 
must readily be admitted ; but, notwithstanding many favourable representations, 
I am yet to learn that he inherits his convivial powers. There was such a 
richness of conversation, such a plenitude of fancy and attraction in liim, that 
when I call the happy period of our intercourse to my memory, I feel myself in 
a state of delirium. I was then younger than he by eight or ten years, but his 
manner was so felicitous that he enraptured every person around him, and 
infused into the hearts of the young and old the spirit and animation which 
operated on his own mind. 

Not long afterwards, probably before the end of August, the 
Poet replied to Mr. Stuart in these terms : — 

My Dear Sir, — The hurry of a farmer in this particular season, and the 
indolence of a poet at all times and seasons, will, I hope, plead my excuse for 
neglecting so long to answer your obliging letter of the 5th August That you 
have done well in quitting your laborious concern in * * * * I do not doubt ; the 
weighty reasons you mention were, I hope, very, and deservedly indeed, weighty 
ones, and your health is a matter of the last importance ; but whether the 
remaining proprietors of the paper have also done well, is what I much doubt. 
The * * * * so far as I was a reader, exhibited such a brilliancy of point, such 
an elegance of paragraph, and such a variety of intelligence, that I can hardly 
conceive it possible to continue a daily paper in the same degree of excellence : 
but if there was a man who had abilities equal to the task, that man's assistance 
the proprietors have lost. 

"When I received your letter I was transcribing for [the 8tar\ my letter to 
the magistrates of the Canongate, Edinburgh, begging their permission to place a 
tombstone over poor Fergusson, and their edict in consequence of my petition ; 
but now I shall send them to . . . Poor Fergusson ! If there be a life beyond 
the grave, which I trust there is ; and if there be a good God presiding over all 


nature, which I am sure there is — thou art now enjoying existence in a glorious 
world, where worth of the heart alone is distinction in the man ; where riches, 
deprived of all their pleasure-purchasing powers, return to their native sordid 
matter ; where titles and honours are the disregarded reveries of an idle dream ; 
and where that heavy virtue, which is the negative consequence of steady 
dulness, and those thoughtless, though often destructive follies, which are the 
unavoidable aberrations of poor human nature, will be thrown into equal oblivion 
as if they had never been ! Adieu, my dear sir ! So soon as your present views 
and schemes are concentrated in an aim, I shall be glad to hear from you ; as 
your welfare and happiness is by no means a subject indifferent to yours, 

R. B. 

The abbreviations in the Poet's letter, also in that of Mr. Stuart, 
to which it was an answer, were obviously due to a desire on the 
part of the latter to conceal the fact of his differences with his 
co-proprietors of the Star, 

Probably these differences were adjusted, for Mr. Stuart's next 
letter contained an offer to the Poet of fifty pounds a year for 
weekly contributions. An engagement was declined, but the Poet 
offered to continue his occasional verses and papers. This polite 
offer was duly acknowledged by Mr. Stuart, who, sending the Poet 
a copy of his journal, promised to continue it. Consequent on this 
promise, Burns addressed Mr. Stuart a rhyming epistle, expressive 
of obligation. That epistle is contained in the usual editions of 
his works. 

But the delivery at Ellisland of the Star newspaper became 
irregular ; hence Burns made plaint to his correspondent in the 

following lines : — 

Dear Peter, dear Peter, 

We poor sons of metre 
Are often negleckit, ye ken ; 

For instance, your sheet, man 

(Though glad I'm to see't, man), 
I get it no ae day in ten. 


In 1795 Mr. Stuart purchased, for the small sum of £80, the 
copyright of the Oracle^ a daily newspaper, with a circulation of 
800, when he again approached the Poet with a renewal of his 
former offer, which was again declined. Respecting it, Mr. Stuart's 
younger brother Daniel, in a letter which appears in the Gentleman's 
Magazine for July 1838, remarks with a sneer that an engagement 
on his brother's staff " would have been a more honourable one than 
that of an Excise ganger." And, accepting the Poet's lines, be- 
ginning, "Dear Peter," as an intended censure, he adds : "We hear 
much of purse-proud insolence ; but poets can sometimes be insolent 
in the conscious power of talent, as well as vulgar upstarts on the 
conscious power of purse." But Mr. Daniel Stuart was scarcely 
competent to give judgment in the cause. In 1796 he, conjointly 
with his brother Peter, acquired, for £600, the copyright and 
printing plant of the Morning Post. As managing director, he 
employed as leader-writers Mr. James Mackintosh, subsequently 
the distinguished Sir James Mackintosh, and Mr. Samuel Taylor 
Coleridge. Not long afterwards the latter was appointed editor, 
and, concentrating his powerful energies in the concern, raised the 
daily circulation from 350 to that of 4500, with the result that the 
brothers, when they parted with the property in 1803, became 
possessed of a fortune. But Mr. Daniel Stuart had allowed Mr. 
Coleridge as editor so mean a salary as sufficed to barely provide 
him with the necessaries of life. In an attempt to justify his act 
of meanness, he was involved in controversy nearly forty years 



A CONSPICUOUS associate of the Poet at Dumfries, John S}Tne was 
descended from a family long resident in Kirkcudl)rightshire. In 
the Slioriff Court Book of Dumfries, John Sime in Cargane, parish of 
Troqueer, is on the 2nd January 1580 named as " intromitter to 
umquhile John Sime his father." 

Son of a small landowner, practising as a Writer to the Signet at 
Edinburgh, John Syme, the Poet's friend, was born in 1755. By 
his father intended for his own profession, he prosecuted legal 
studies, but these he abandoned in his nineteenth year, when he 
joined the army as an ensign. After serving a year or two in the 
72nd Regiment, he retired into private life, and now electing the 
avocation of an agriculturist, he settled on his father's estate of 
Barncailzie, in Kirkcudbrightshire. But the new project did not 
suit, for his father, who had become involved in the affairs of the 
Ayr Bank, was compelled to dispose of his lands. Through family 
influence the subject of this notice was in 1791 appointed Distributor 
of Stamps at Dumfries, a lucrative oftice, which he continued to 
retain for the long period of forty years. 

Mr. Syme's stamp office was situated in the Friar Vennel, now 
Bank Street, nnd when Burns removed from Ell island to Dumfries 
in 1791, he rented as his dwelling-house the floor immediately over 
it. Between the Distributor and the Poet soon arose a stronir 
friendship. In July 1 793 Mr. Syme accompanied the Poet in an 
excursion to Galloway, a narrative of which he drew up soon after- 
wards. On the 27th July the fellow-travellers dined at the 
residence of the Glendonwynes of Parton, on the banks of the Dee. 
From thence they proceeded to Kenmure Castle, the residence of Mr. 
Gordon, afterwards Viscount Kenmure, where they remained three 

VOL. II. 2 K 


days, while the Poet left a memorial of his visit by composing for Mrs. 
Gordon an epitaph on her favourite dog " Echo," which had lately died. 

From Kenmure Castle the travellers journeyed to Gatehouse by 
a dreary road, and in a drenching rain, which resulted in the ruin 
of the Poet's boots, much to his discomfort and chagrin. At St. 
Mary's Isle they were hospitably entertained by the Earl of Selkirk, 
who, in token of respect and sympathy, bore the Poet's dismembered 
boots in his coach to Dumfries. During this excursion into Gallo- 
way the Poet, according to Mr. Syme, composed the first draft of his 
" Scots wha hae." 

A man of culture and superior intelligence, Mr. Syme was 
honoured by the Poet as one of his chief literary counsellors. In 
an undated letter, ascribed to May 1795, the Poet enclosed for his 
approval his song beginning, " wat ye wha's in yon town," com- 
posed as a tributary offering to the wife of Richard A. Oswald, Esq., 
of Auchencruive, nee Lucy Johnston of Hilton, a lady of remarkable 
beauty. The Poet begins his letter to Mr. Syme with these words : 
" You know that among other high dignities, you have the honor 
to be my supreme court of critical judicature, from which there is 
no appeal." 

At Mr. Syme's villa of Pyedale the Poet experienced much 
cordial hospitality. To a card inviting him to dinner, in w^hich Mr. 
Syme promised him the best company and the best cookery, the 
Poet sent in answer the following epigram : — 

No more of your guests, be they titled or not. 

And cookery the first in the nation ; 
Who is proof to thy personal converse and wit 

Is proof to all other temptation. 
Dumfries, 17^/i December 1795. 

With respect to one of his earlier meetings with the Poet, Mr. 
Syme has presented the following narrative : — 

JOHN SYME. ' 259 

In my parlour at Ryeilalo, one afternoon, IJurns and I were very gracioiu 
and confidential. I did advise him to bo temperate in all thingfi. I might have 
spoken daggers, but I did not mean them. Ho shook to the inmost fibre of hi« 
frame, and drew the sword-cane, when I exclaimed, " What ! wilt thou thua, and 
ill my own house?" The poor fellow was bo stung with remorse that hedachcd 
himself down on the floor. That ebullition of momentary irritation was 
followed by a friendship more ardent than ever between us. 

Mr. Syme's narrative, quoted by Sir Walter Scott in a critique 
(•f Cromek's Reliques in the Quarterly Review^ led Mr. Gilbert 
Burns, in the reprint of Currie's edition, which he edited in 1820, 
to make the following remarks : — 

Great injury to the Poet's character seems to have arisen from people pre- 
tending friendship and intimacy with him, who wished to have something 
wonderful to toll of a person who had attracted so much of the notice of the 
world. It is well known that many persons are to be found whose code of 
moral obligation does not prevent thom from violating truth in embellishing % 
story, and yet are esteemed by the world very honorable men. In the pictures 
which such men give of life and character, likeness is deliberately sacrificed to 
effect. Thus in the foolish story of a sword - cane, brought forA*anl in the 
Quarterly Review, the vanity of some pretended friend of the Poet is di8])laycd 
by the relation of a powerful admonition addressed by the narrator to the Poet, 
producing such theatrical starts and agitation as no one who knew the Poet, or 
who has even attentively perused his letters and poetry, can give credit to for 
a moment. 

In relating the .story of the sword-cane, it is nearly certain tliat 
Mr. Syme unconsciously misinterpreted the Poet's action, or allowed 
the incident to obtain in his mind a dramatic force, unwarranted 
by the actual circumstances. 

When the Poet died Mr. Syme proceeded to institute a 
subscription on behalf of his family, and he accompanied Mr. 
Gilbert Burns to Liverpool on a visit to Dr. Currie, to aid in 
arranging materials for his edition of the Poet's works, and the 
production of a suitable memoir. Yet, from some cause which has 


not been explained, his interest in tlic Poet's family afterwards 
subsided. This appears from a letter, dated 8th April 1806, in 
which Mr. Gilbert Burns, in relation to Mr. Cromek's intended 
publication of the Poet's letters, informs Mr. Robert Ainslie that 
"Mr. Syme had withdrawn from the share he once took in the 
affairs of the family." ^ 

Though from some variableness of nature, subsequently intensi- 
fied by the strictures of Gilbert Burns in relation to the incident of 
the sword-cane, Mr. Syme retired from acting as a trustee in con- 
nexion with the family, he continued to cherish the Poet's memory 
with deep affection and regard. Having been asked to express an 
opinion of a portrait of the Bard, painted by Mr. Taylor, he in 
November 1829 wrote thus : — 

The Poet's expression varied perpetually, according to the idea that predomi- 
nated in his mind, and it was beautiful to mark how well the play of his lips 
indicated the sentiment he was about to utter. His eyes and lips, the first 
remarkable for fire, and the second for flexibility, formed at all times an index 
to his mind, and, as sunshine or shade predominated, you might have told, a 
'priori^ whether the company was to be favoured with a scintillation of wit, or a 
sentiment of benevolence, or a burst of fiery indignation. ... I cordially 
concur with what Sir Walter Scott says of the Poet's eyes. In his animated 
moments, and particularly when his anger was aroused by instances of tergiver- 
sation, meanness, or tyranny, they were actually like coals of living fire. 

Mr. Syme died on the 24th November 1831, at the age of 
seventy- six ; his remains were committed to the parish churchyard 
of Troqueer, where he and his wife are commemorated by a 

Mr. Syme married Jane Millar, who died 8th March 1809, aged 
forty-four. To the spouses were born several children. Their 
grand-daughter, Mrs. M. E. Smith of London, is known as a literary 

^ Laing MSS., University of Edinburgh. 


A steel-engraved portrait of Mr. Symc is contained in The Land 
of Bui'ns (vol. ii. p. 18), accompanied by a biographical sketch from 
the pen of Dr. Robert Chambers. 


The family of Tuit we first trace to the parish of Longside, in 
Aberdeenshire, a locality associated with the ministerial labours of 
the Rev. John Skinner, author of '* Tullochgorum." William Tait, 
joiner at Ludquhurn, in Longside, was noted for his intelligence, 
and is, in the parish churchyard, commemorated by a toml^stonc, 
bearing a Latin ci)itaph, composed by Mr. Skinner. Ilis son 
Alexander, who followed the paternal calling at Bog<'ii<1, in the 
same parish, had a son John. 

John Tait, son: of Alexander Tait in Bogend of Longside, was 
baptized on the llth July 1729.^ Removing to Eilinburgh, he 
there engaged in the study of law, and in 1763 was admitted a 
AVriter to the Signet. About the year 1785 he purchased tlic 
estate of ILarvieston, in the county of Clackmannan, where he 
erected a convenient residence. Having, on the introduction of his 
sister-in-law, Mrs. John Chalmers, formerly of Fingland," become 
acquainted with Burns during the spring of 1787, he invited the 
Poet to visit him at Harvieston in the following autumn. Accept- 
ing the invitation, Burns, in the couree of his northern tour, 
proceeded to Harvieston on Monday the 27th of August 1787. 'J'hc 
visit was confined to a single day. In the morning the Poet rwle 
from Stirling to Harvieston, a distance of nine miles, in time for 

' Longside I'arish Register. ' Sec article Margaret Chalmers. 


breakfast, and thereafter, with the members of Mr. Tait's family, 
visited the Caldron Linn, and the other romantic scenery on the 
Devon. At Harvieston he met Mrs. Hamilton, stepmother of his 
friend Mr. Gavin Hamilton, and her daughter Charlotte, whom 
he afterwards celebrated ; also Mrs. Chalmers, late of Fingland, 
and her elder daughter, Lady Mackenzie. Li order to carry out his 
proposed northern tour with his friend Mr. Nicol, he on the same 
evening returned to Stirling. But the Poet's visit proved so 
acceptable to Mr. Tait and his family, that the promise of a 
second and longer visit before the close of the autumn was pre- 
ferred and acceded to. 

In fulfilment of his promise to Mr. Tait and his family, Burns 
left Edinburgh for Harvieston early in October, in company with 
his young friend Dr. James Adair. At Harvieston, where he 
sojourned about eight days,^ he, in addition to those whom he had 
there met previously, found Miss Margaret Chalmers, whom, on 
his return to Edinburgh, he celebrated in his songs commencing 
" Where, braving angry winter's storms " and " My Peggy's face, 
my Peggy's form." Consequent on this visit to Harvieston, the 
Poet also celebrated the beautiful Charlotte Hamilton in his song 
" Fairest maid on Devon's banks." 

John Tait of Harvieston died in the year 1800. In 1766 
he married Charlotte, fourth daughter of Thomas Murdoch of 
Cumloden, who died prior to the year 1785, leaving a son and 
daughter. The daughter, Elizabeth Tait, died unmarried in 1802. 

Craufurd Tait, only son of John Tait, was born in 1767, and 
was admitted a Writer to the Signet, conducting business in 

1 In his letter to Miss Margaret Chalmers, of ten." But as Dr. Adair errs by describing the 

the 16th September 1788, the Poet refers to visit as occurring in August rather than in 

this visit to Harvieston as having continued October, his memory may also have failed as 

eight days ; while, in his "Narrative," Dr. to the period of its duration. 
Adair mentions that it extended to "about 


partnership with liis ftitlicr. As a younger representative of a 
family with whom he had pleasantly associated, he was by the 
Toet cherished and honoured. On the 15th October 1790 we 
find the Poet writing to him from Ellisland, rettommending to his 
attention a young friend, a native of Ayrshire, who had gone to 
Edinburgh with the view of following the legal profession. In 
these words he compliments his correspondent : — 

Of iill the men at your time of life whom I know in Edinburgh, you are the 
most accessible on the side on which 1 have assailed you. You ore very much 
altered indeed from what you were when I knew you, if generosity point the 
patli you will not tread, or humanity call to you in vain. 

On his father's death in the year 1800, Mr. Craufurd Tait 
succeeded to the estate of Harvieston, which he improved and 
adorned. As a lawyer he was noted for his precision and gentle- 
ness. Employed by the creditors of the Comte d'ArtoLs, brother 
of the unfortunate Louis XVI., when he was residing in Holyrood 
House as a sanctuary from legal arrest, he induced his clients to 
exercise such a measure of forbearance as to enable the Prince 
to leave the bounds of the sanctuary, and to walk about Edin- 
burgh without restraint.* He died in May 1832. Craufurd Tait 
married, I7tli June 1795, Susan, fourth daughter of Sir Islay 
Campbell, Bart, of Succoth, Lord President of the Court of 
Session,' with issue four sons and three daughters. John, the 
eldest son, born 11th February 1796, was elected Vice-Dean of the 
Faculty of Advocates, and for thirty-six years was Sheriff of Clack- 
mannan and Kinross, and eiij^ht years Sheriff of Perthshire. He died 
22nd May 1877. Sherifi* Tait married Mary, daughter of Francis 
Sitwell, of Barmoor, with issue. James Campbell, the second son, 

' Rtm'\n\»cenet» of a Scottish Oinlleman [ Ainslie^ London, 1881, 12mo, p. 61. 

- Mi-a. Craufurd Tait ilieil 3rd January 1814. 


born 1799, was admitted a Writer to the Signet in 1823 ; lie died 
in 1878. Thomas Forsyth, third son, born 1805, was a colonel in 
the army, C.B., and A.D.C. to the Queen ; he died unmarried. 

Archibald Campbell, fourth son of Craufurd Tait, was born in 
Edinburgh on the 21st December 1811. After a period of attend- 
ance at the High School and the Academy of Edinburgh, he, in 
1827, entered the University of Glasgow, where he specially dis- 
tinguished himself in classical studies. Three years later he was 
elected an exhibitioner on Snell's foundation to Balliol College, 
Oxford. Of that college he became successively scholar, fellow, 
and tutor, while he also graduated with first-class honours. At the 
ao-e of thirty-one he w^as chosen, in succession to Dr. Arnold, head- 
master of Rugby, and succeeded in maintaining the high reputation 
of the school. In 1850 he accepted the office of Dean of Carlisle, 
and on the 23rd November 1856 was consecrated as Bishop of 
London. In 1863 he initiated a movement for the erection and 
endowment in the metropolis of additional churches, towards which 
the sum of one million was afterwards contributed. Having ful- 
filled with an unparalleled energy his episcopal duties in the See 
of London, he was in November 1868 elevated to the high position 
of Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of all England. After a 
period of feeble health, he died on the 3rd December 1882, at the 
age of seventy-one. At the period when, as tutor at Oxford, he 
entered into orders, he distinguished himself as a vigorous 
opponent of the Tractarian movement then put forward by Drs. 
Newman and Pusey. And when he became a bishop he evinced a 
mild but firm resistance to ritualistic practices. With the view 
of strengthening the authority of the episcopate in repressing 
Pomanizing tendencies, he, in 1874, succeeded in passing through 
Parliament the Public Worship Regulation Bill. 

Along with several charges to his clergy. Archbishop Tait pub- 


lisliod two volumes of Sermons; also works entitled The Dangers 
"lid Safeguards of Modern Theology, and The Word of God and 
the Ground of Faith. He contrihuted articles on education and 
kindred topics to the Edhdmrgh and North British Reviews. 

Dr. Tait married, in I84J1, Catherine, vounjicst daughter of the 
\ onerable William Spooner, Archdeacon of C'oventiy, hy his wife 
Anna Marin, daugliter of Sir Lucius O'Brien, Bart., of Dromoland ; 
she died 1st December 1878. Of the marriage were Iwm a son an<l 
ei<rht daughters. 

C-raufurd, the Archbishop's only son, was born at Rugby in 
1849, and, b«Mng educated first at Rugby and afterwards at Eton, 
he entered the University of Oxford. Adopting the clerical pro- 
fession, he, in 1874, commenced the pastoral labours at Stdtwood, 
near Folkestone, and in the following year he was appointed vicar 
of Croydon, in Sussex. In the hope of recovering bis health, which 
had become enfeel)led, he, in 1877, made a visit to the United 
States, but he did not profit by the change, and died in May 1878. 

Five of the Archbishop's daughters were cut off )>y scarlet fever 
in 1856. The daughters, Lucy Sydney Murray, lulith MurdtK-h, 
and Agnes Sit well, survive. 

Susan Murray, eldest daughter of Craufurd Tait, married Sir 
George Sitwell, Bart. ; Charlotte Murdoch, second daugliter, married 
Sir Charles Wake, Bart. ; and Marion, third daughter, married 
Ivichard Wildman, Esq., of Lowndes Square, London. 


The family of Tenan or Tennand, afterwards Tennant, are found in 
the neighbourhood of Ayr in the fifteenth century. In 1501 Andrew 
Tennand appears as a witness to certain chartere at Ayr. 

VOL, II. 2 L 


William Teimant in Brighouse, a place situated between Alloway 
and Ayr, had as a relative John Tennant, miller at Blairston Mill, 
in the parish of Maybole, who was born in the year 1635, and died 
7th April 1728. This person married Jean M'Taggart (born in 
1669, died 12th February 1723), and of the marriage were born 
several children. Of these was William Tennant, farmer for nearly 
fifty years of the Mains of Bridgend of Doon, in Maybole parish, 
and who died on the 19th November 1744. William Tennant 
married Agnes Reid (she died on the 3rd December 1746), and of 
the union were born five sons, John, James, Robert, Alexander, and 

Robert, the third son, engaged in business at Ayr, and was 
elected Deacon Convener of the Trades. 

David, the youngest son, baptized 18th September 1734, received 
a classical education, and was preferred to the office of English 
master in the grammar school of Ayr. On the 14th November 
1787, the town council of Ayr, in consideration of the great atten- 
tion that he had bestowed on the work of the school, and the 
proficiency of his pupils, resolved to augment his official emolu- 
ments.^ He died on the 27th April 1823. David Tennant 
married, on the 20th December 1762, Catherine, daughter of James 
Dalrymple, writer in Ayr, by whom he had a son, William, and two 
daughters, Margaret and Susan. 

William Tennant married his cousin, Dalrymple, by whom 

he had two children, James, afterwards Sir James Tennant, and 
William. Thrice married, William had eight children, but of these 

one only, by his second marriage with Johnston, survived, 

namely, William, now of Charles Tennant & Co., London. Of the 
English master's two daughters, Margaret married Dr. Smith, a 
physician in India, Susan, the younger daughter, married Dr. 

^ Ayr Burgh Records. 


Gairdner of Edinbuigli ; one of her children is William Tennant 
Gairdner, M.D., Professor of the lustitutes of Medicine in the 
University of Glasgow. 

John Tinnant, eldest son and second child of William Tennant, 
Ifirmer at Bridgend, was Imptizcd 13th October 1725. In the 
baptismal register both his own and his father's names are spelt 
Tennan. John Tennant began life ])y renting the farm of Liiigh 
Gorton, near Bridgend. There he was the immediate neighlxiur 
of William Burnes, and when his son Robert was baptized, he became 
one of the witnesses. At his harvest homes he liad employed the 
services as a violinist of Hugh M'Guire, joiner in Ayr, whose 
personal history has l)een related.' When Elizabeth M'Guire, 
the musician's eldest daughter, became Countess of Glencairn, she, 
in 1769, appointed the farmer at Laigh Gorton factor on her lands 
of Ochiltree. Accepting the office, John Tennant removed to Glen- 
conner, in the parish of Ochiltree, where he occupied the mansion, 
and also rented the farm of Glenconnei*. He retained the office of 
factor for eleven years. 

When Burns was on the eve of publishing his poems, lie carried 
his MSS. to Glenconner, and read them with such intensity of 
feeling that Mr. Tennant was thrilled with emotion. To the Poet's 
dramatic power as a reader he and his elder sons were afterwards in 
the habit of referring. When the Kilmarnock volume appeared, 
*' Glenconner" brought it under the notice of the widowed Countess 
of Glencairn, also of Mr. Dalziel, the Earl of Glencairn 's factor at 
Finlayston, with the result that the E<irl made the Poet known to 
Mr. Creech, and also essentially aided in introducing him into the 
literary society of Edinburgh. Grateful to Mr. Tennant for his im- 
portant services. Burns denoted his obligation by presenting him with 
a fiivouritc work, entitled, Letters concerning the Religion essential 

* Sm article Earl of Gloncairu. 


to Man as it is distinct from ivhat is merely a^i accession to it, and 
on which he inscribed these words, "A paltry present from Robert 
Burns, the Scotch Bard, to his own friend and his father's friend, 
John Tennant in Glenconner, 20th December 1786."^ 

At the Poet's request, Mr. Tennant accompanied him to Dum- 
friesshire, in February 1788, to inspect the farms of Mr. Miller 
of Dalswinton, and at his advice he selected Ellisland. On this 
subject the Poet, on the 7th of March, communicated with his 
friend Robert Muir in these terms : — 

I took old Glenconner with me to Mr. Miller's farm, and he was so pleased 
with it, that I have made an oifer to Mr. Miller, which, if he accepts, shall 
make me sit down as a plain farmer — the happiest of lives when a man can live 
by it. 

In his rhyming " Epistle to James Tennant," Glenconner's eldest 
son, composed in 1786, the Poet writes : — 

My heart-warm love to guid auld Glen, 
The ace an' wale of honest men : 
When bending down wi' auld grey hairs 
Beneath the load of years and cares, 
May He who made him still support him, 
An' views beyond the grave comfort him ; 
His worthy fam'ly far and near, 
God bless them a' wi' grace and gear. 

John Tennant died on the 28th April 1810, at the advanced age 
of eighty-four. He was twice married. He married, first, 22nd 
December 1748, Jane, daugher of James M'Clure of the parish of St. 
Quivox, with issue two sons, William and James, also a daughter, 
Joan. James alone survived. Born at Laio^h Gorton on the 5th 


1 The volume is now in the possession of Sir Charles Tennant, Bart., of Glen, Glenconner's 


May 1754, he became miller at Ochiltree Mill, and was familiarly 
known as *' the miller." In his poetical '* Epistle to James Tennant " 
the Poet celebrates the ilifterent members of the family, and expresses 
a hope th;it In flw cnjovmfTif (ifllf.. \{\^ fri''!!'! iip'v li-tvc — 

Muny a luugii, uiul luony u drink, 
Ami avf fiu'iK.'h o' ncedfu' cliuk. 

By a neighbour at Ochiltree James Tennant was de8cril>ed in 
1812 as "a dungeon of wit." He married, in May 1793, Jean 
M'CIatchie, with issue three sons — John, born 1790, William, born 
1797, and James, born 1799; also a daughter, Charlotte, born in 
1795. John and Charlotte left descendants. 

John Tennant, factor at Glenconner, married, secondly, 23rd 
August 1757, Mary, daughter of John M'Lure, formerly farmer in 
Netherton of Alloway (born 24th October 1738, died 3rd March 
1784), and of the marriage were born six sons and seven daughters. 

Agnes, the eldest daughter, born 30th April 1764, is, in the 
Poet's epistle to her brother James, alluded to as — 

my lUiKl ac<niaiutanco, Nuncy, 
Since she is fitted to her fancy, 
An' her kind stars hae airted till her 
A guid chiel wi' a pickle siller. 

Agnes had, in 1785, married George Reid, farmer at Barquharie, 
nephew of the Rev. George Reid, minister of Ochiltree, who, at the 
time of his death in 1786, wjis Father of the Church, being in the sixty- 
first year of his ministry. On a pony supplied in loan by Nancy's 
husband the Poet rode to Edinburgh in 1786, and he acknowledged 
the act of service by addressing to Mr. Reid the first letter which he 
despatched from the capital. To Mrs. Reid, in token of gratitude, 
he sent an early copy of the Edinburgh edition of his poems. 


Mrs. Reid died on the 14th June 1787, leaving two daughters, 

Margaret, who married Prentice, and Elizabeth, who married 


Janet, second daughter of John Tennant and Mary M'Clure, 
born 30th May 1766, married Andrew Paterson of Ayr, with issue ; 
she died on the 1st February 1843. 

Margaret, third daughter, born 22nd April 1770, died unmarried 
on the 19th October 1836. 

Elizabeth, fourth daughter, born 11th June 1776, married 

Houghton, of Cape Town, with issue ; she died 28th February 1813. 

Katherine, fifth daughter, was born 24t]i July 1778 ; she died 
unmarried on the 24th January 1848. 

Sarah, sixth daughter, born 18tli April 1780, married William 
Sloan, farmer, Auchlin, in the parish of Ochiltree, and had eight 
children; she died 5th September 1864. 

Charlotte, seventh daughter, born 14th September 1782, resided 
at Leddrie Green, in the parish of Strathblane, where she died 
unmarried on the 4th December 1859. 

William, eldest son of John Tennant of Glenconner by his second 
wife, was born on the 1st November 1758. In the Poet's rhyming 
epistle to his brother James, William is described as — 

My anld schoolfellow, preacher Willie. 

AVilliam Tennant was chaplain to the forces in India, and on his 
retirement settled at Glenconner. Of earnest religious convictions, 
his pulpit prelections were strictly evangelical. In 1803 he pub- 
lished Indian Researches, in two volumes, and in 1807 issued 
Thoughts on the Effects of the British Government on the State of 
India. From the University of Glasgow he received the degree of 
LL.D. He died, unmarried, on the 13th May 1813.^ 

' A memoir of Dr, William Tennant is contained in Puhlic Characters, for tlie year 1805, p. 393. 


John, secoiul hou of the factor at Glenconner by his second 
marriage, was born 28th August 1760. Boarded along with the 
Poet with Mr. John Murdoch, English master in Ayr Academy,* 
they occupied the same apartment, and John was disposed to 
complain that his bedfellow would keep him awake for hours 
repeating verses which he had composed. The Poet was then in 
his seventeenth year. 

John Tennant first turned his attention to ship-building, but, 
finding that a seven years' apprenticeship was necessary, he almndoned 
the notion, and entered on business as a distiller. Writing to him 
fiom Ellis1;ni<l. on tlip 2'2n(1 IVccihImt 178S. tli«' Poet begins: — 

^1y Deau Silt, — 1 ycistetxluy tried my cask of whisky for the tiret time, 
and I assure you it does you great credit. . . . The whisky of this 
country is a most rascally liquor, and by consequence only drunk by the most 
rascally part of the inhabitants. I am persuade<l, if you once get a footing 
here, you might do a great deal of business in the way of consumpt ; and 
should you commenco distiller again, this is the native barley country. 

The Poet concludes : — 

If you could take a jaunt this way yourself, I have a spare spoon, knife, 
and fork very much at your service. My compliments to Mrai Tennant, and all 

the good folks in Glenconner autl|uharie. 

Abandoning business as a distiller, John Tennant leased the 
farms of Auchenbay and Steelepark, afterwards the farm of 
Shields in the parish of St. Quivox. Latterly he rented Girvan 
Mains, and many other small farms in the same neighbourhood. 
A skilful agriculturist, he was consulted by Sir John Sinclair, and 
was examined by a Committee of the House of Commons in reference 
to the state of agriculture in Scotland. From a single year's profits 

^ Mr. Murdoch's house is now r niinous tenement on the west side of Sandgate, immediately 
to the north of the Free Churvh. 


of liis farms he purchased the estate of Creoch, in tlie parish of 
Ochiltree, for the sum of £9000. He died in 1853. 

John Tennant of Creoch married, in 1785, Margaret Colville 
(she died 26th Mny 1823), and of the union were born four sons 
and eight daughters. 

Jane, the eldest daughter, was born on the 15th May 1786. In 
his poetical " Epistle to James Tennant," the Poet, in anticipation of 
the birth of Auchenbay's first child, writes thus : — 

And Auchenbay, I wish liim joj', 
If he's a parent, lass or boy, 
May he be dad, and Meg the mithe)\ 
Just five-and-forty years thegither.^ 

Jane died unmarried, as did Margaret, a twin, born 2nd January 
1788, Agnes, born 25th October 1789, and Elizabeth, born 15th 
October 1791. The daughters, Jessy, born 2nd January 1788, 
Catherine, born 12th August 1797, and Charlotte, born 15th May 
1804, severally married, with issue. Isabella, the sixth daughter, 
born 17th May 1793, married John Guthrie, Turnberry Lodge, 
Kirkoswald, formerly captain in the Koyal East Middlesex MiJitia ; 
she died at Glasgow on the 15th June 1878.^ 

Auchenbay's four sons were John, George, born 28th April 1799, 
William, born 17tli February 1802, and David, born 4th October 
1807. John, the eldest son, born 25th March 1795, succeeded his 
father in the estate of Creoch, and died 17th May 1863. By his 
second wife, Anne, sixth child of John Tennant of the Stamp Office, 

1 The date of the birth of John Tennant's him to attain the threescore and ten years of 
first-born approximately fixes the date of the the Psalmist, He survived to the age of ninety- 
Poet's rhyming epistle to his brother James ; four. 

it has hitherto been erroneously ascribed to ^ To Mrs. Guthrie's grandson, Dr. David 

the year 1789. In wishing his old companion Murray, solicitor, Glasgow, we are largely 

" five-and-forty years " of connubial happiness, indebted for assistance in the matter of the 

the Poet remembered that his friend had Tennant pedigree, 
married at five-and-twenty ; he therefore wishes 


Vyr, and third son of Robert Tennant, Deacon Convener of the 
Trades of Ayr, brother of " old Glencouner," he had a family of 
sons. George, the eldest son, succeeded to the estate. 

David, third son of Glenconner by his second wife, was bom 
6th .lune 17(12. Joining as a seaman the merchant service, he 
obtained command of a vessel, and was engaged in privateering 
(luring the French wars. In the epistle, Bums refers to 
" The manly tar, my mason-billie." David Tennant lost his right 
hand in a naval engagement, and, having distinguished himself by 
his valour, was offered knighthood, which he declined. He married 
Ann Green, without issue, and died at Swansea on the .30th 
August 1839. 

Charles, Glenconner's fourth son by his second wife, was bora 
3rd May 1768. He was sent by his father to Kilbarchan to acquire 
the art of handloom weaving ; he is in the Poet's epistle styled 
" wabster Charlie." He afterwards adopted the trade of bleaching, 
which he conducted at Daraley, near Barrhead. In connexion with 
the art of bleaching, he in 1797 obtained a patent for the manufac- 
ture of chloride of lime, by what is known as the humid process, 
and two years later got a further patent for the dry process, that is, 
bleaching powder. Thereafter a copartnership was formed for 
working the inventions under the firm of Tennant, Knox, & Co., 
the partnei-a of which were Charles Tennant, James Knox of Hurlet, 
Charles Mackintosh of Dunchattan, Dr. William Couper, surgeon, 
Glasgow, and Mr. Alexander Dunloj). By these partners were 
constructed the great works at St. Rollox, Glasgow. Charles 
Tennant died on the 1st Octolier 1838. He married in 1795 
Margaret Wilson, daughter of William Wilson of Thomley, with 
issue two sons and six daughters. 

Of the daughters, Charlotte married Dr. John Couper, .Mary, 
William Coupor. and ('hristina. Alexander Couper, sons of William 

VOL. II. 2 M 


Couper, physician in Glasgow, a partner in the St. Rollox firm ; 

Margaret married Dunlop ; Catherine, Eobert Wallace ; 

Elizabeth remained unmarried, 

Charles James, the younger son, became proprietor of Ballikinrain. 

John, the elder son, succeeded his father as a principal partner 
in the St. EoUox works. Possessed of much energy and intelligence, 
he evinced a deep interest in the municipal aflPairs of Glasgow, where 
he was long resident. He died on the 17th April 1878.^ His 
family consisted of two sons and a daughter. 

Charles, the elder son, was born in 1823. In 1852 he purchased 
the estate of Glen, in the county of Peebles, on which he erected an 
elegant residence. In 1880 he was elected Parliamentary representa- 
tive for the counties of Peebles and Selkirk. On the 17th July 
1885 he was created a baronet. He married, in 1849, Emma, 
daughter of Richard Winsloe of Mount Nebo, Taunton, Somerset- 
shire, and has issue. 

John, the younger son, married with issue. 

Marion, only daughter of John Tennant of St. Rollox, married, 
5th April 1852, the Rev. Robert Wallace, minister of Dalrymple, 

Alexander, fifth son of Glenconner by his second wife, was 
born 23rd May 1772. In early life he established his residence at 
the Cape of Good Hope, where he died on the 15th May 1814. He 
had a daughter, Anne Elizabeth, also five sons, John, Alexander 
William, Charles, William, and Hercules. 

Hercules Tennant became Civil Commissioner of Uitenhasre. 
He married, as his first wife, Letitia Brand, and his eldest son is 
Sir David Tennant, present Speaker of the House of Representatives 
in Cape Colony. 

Robert, Glenconner's sixth and youngest son by his second 

^ See A Hundred Glasgow Men : Maclehose, Glasgow. 


muniage, was bom Slat August 1774. He is the "singing 
Sannock " of the epistle. He settled as a bleacher at Fintona 
in Ireland, where he died on the 11th August 1841. Twice married, 
ho had six children by his first wife, and by his second one child. 
Alexander, his eldest son, is a cotton broker in Ghwgow, and his 
• laughter, Mary, resides at 10 Glasgow Street, Hillhead, Glasgow. 

John Tenuant, styled " of Glenconner," married, thirdly, on the 
1 5th January 1787, Jean MacWilliara, of the parish of Dalmellington, 
widow of Thomas Reid ; she died 28th January 1798, without 

" Cousin Kate " of the epistle was Katherine, dauglitcr of 
Alexander Tennaut, a younger brother of Glenconner; she latterly 
resided at Ayr, where she died at an advanced age. 


Son of Mr. Robert Thomson, some time schoolmaster at Limekilns, 
in the parish of Dunfermline, George Thomson was there bom on 
the 4th March 1757. In the parish register of Dunfermline his 
birth and baptism are denoted in the following entry : — 

1757. — Mr. Robert Thomson, schoolmaster in Limekilns, had a son bom to 
him of Anne Stirling;, his wife, March 4th, and baptized 6th, named Otorgt, 
Witnesses, RoUand Cowie, wigmaker in Dunfermline, and Mr. Andrew Reeky, 
preceptor to the children of Mr. Robert Wellwood of Easter Gellet, advocate. 

In an autobiographical letter, dated 29th March 1838, addressed 
by Mr. Thomson to Dr. Robert Chaml)ers, when that gentleman was 
preparing the letterpress of TJic Land of Bums, he mentions that 
during his childhood his father removed to Banff, where he con- 


tinued to exercise the function of a public instructor. At length, 
findino; that his emoluments as an unendowed teacher were insuf- 
ficient for the maintenance of his family, he about the year 
1774 removed to Edinburgh, where he accepted employment as 
a messenger-at-arms. 

George had acquired a fair amount of education at the grammar 
school of Banff, and, on his father settling at Edinburgh, was found 
competent for the duties of clerk to a Writer to the Signet. In 1780, 
on the recommendation of Mr. John Home, the author of " Douglas," 
he was appointed junior clerk to the Board of Trustees, and not 
long afterwards, on the death of the principal clerk, he succeeded to 
his office, a respectable position, which he retained till the period of 
his death. From Mr. Thomson's autobiographical letter we now 
make a long extract : — ■ 

From my boyhood I had a passion for the sister arts of Music and Painting, 
which I have ever since continued to cherish in the society of the ablest 
professors of both arts. Having studied the violin, it was my custom, after the 
hours of business, to con over our Scottish melodies, and to devour the choruses 
of Handel's oratorios, in which, when performed at St. Cecilia's Hall, I generally 
took a part, along with a few other gentlemen, Mr. Alexander Wight, one of 
the most eminent counsel at the bar, Mr. Gilbert Innes of Stow, Mr. John 
Russell, W.S., Mr. John Hutton, etc., it being then not uncommon for grave 
amateurs to assist at the St. Cecilia concerts, one of the most interesting and 
liberal musical institutions that ever existed in Scotland or indeed in any 
country. I had so much delight in singing those matchless choruses and in 
practising the violin quartettos of Pleyel and Haydn, that it was with joy I 
hailed the hour when, like the young amateur in the good old Scotch song, I 
could hie me " hame to my Cremona," and enjoy Haydn's admirable fancies. 

" T still was pleased where'er I went, and when I was alone, 
I screw'd my pegs and pleas'd myself with John o' Badenyon." 

At the St. Cecilia concerts I heard Scottish songs sung in a style of excellence 
far surpassing any idea which I had previously had of their beauty, and that 


too from JlaliuTu, Signor Tenducci the one, and Signora Domenica Corn the 
other. Tenducci'a " I'll never leave theo " and " Braofl of liallenden," and the 
Signora's " tlwe-bughts, Marion," and " Woly, waly," so delighted every hearer, 
that in the most crowded room not a whisiier was to be heard, so entirely did 
they rivet the attention and admiration of the audience. Tenducci's singing 
was full of passion, fueling, and taste ; and, what wo hear very rarely from 
singers, his articulation of the words wiis no less {>crfect than his expreation of 
the music. It was in consequence of my hearing him and Signora Corn sing 
a number of our songs so clmrnungly, that I conceived the idea of collecting all 
our best melodies ami soul's, smd uf dlitiuninu' accompanimciits t<> tliijn wnHhv 
of their merit. 

On examining witlt great attention the various cuUectiuns on which I couid 
by any means lay my hands, I found them all more or less exceptionable, a ^ad 
mixture of good and evil, the pure and the impure. The meloilies in gen» 
were without any symphonies to introduce and conclude them, and the accom- 
paniments (f(»r the piano only) meagre and commonplace ; while the veraea 
united with the melodies were in a great many instances coarse and vulgar, the 
productions of a rude age, and such as could not be tolerated or sung iu good 

Many co]>ies of the same melody both in print and manuscript, difleriug 
more or less from each other, came under my view ; and after a minute 
comparison of copies, and hearing them sung over and over by such of my fair 
friends as I knew to be most conversant with them, I choae that set or copy of 
eacli air which I found the most simple and Iwautiful. 

For obtaining accompaniments to the airs, and also symphonies to introduce 
and concludo each air, — a most interesting ajipcndage to the airs that had not 
before graced any of the collections, — I turned my eyes first on Pleyel, who«e 
compositions were remarkably popular and pleasing ; and afterwards, when I 
had resolved to extend my work into a complete collection of all the airs that 
were worthy of preservation, I divido<l them in different portions, and sent 
them from time to time to Haydn, to IJeethoven, to Weber, Hummel, etc, the 
greatest musicians then flourishing in Europe. Tliese artistes, to my inexpress- 
ible satisfaction, proceeded con amorf with their res|x»ctive portions of the 
work ; and in the symphonies, which are oHginal ami characteristic creation* of 
their ofrn, as well as in their judicious and delicate accompaniments for the 
pianoforte, and for the violin, flute, and violoncello, they exceeded my ma«»t 
«\nguine expectations, and obtained the decided approval of the best judges. 


Their compositions have been pronounced by the Edinburgh Review to be 
wholly unrivalled for originality and beauty. 

The poetry became next the subject of my anxious consideration, and 
engaged me in a far more extensive correspondence than I had ever anticipated, 
which occupied nearly the whole of my leisure for many years ; for, although a 
small portion of the melodies had long been united with excellent songs, yet a 
much greater number stood matched with such unworthy associates as to render 
a divorce and a new union absolutely necessary. 

In the progress of his correspondence, Mr. Thomson sought 
assistance from the Poet. In his first letter to him, which is dated 
September 1792, he, after explaining the character of his proposed 
work, writes thus : — 

We shall esteem your poetical assistance a particular favour, besides paying 
any reasonable price you shall please to demand for it. Profit is quite a 
secondary consideration with us, and we are resolved to spare neither pains nor 
expense on the publication. Tell me frankly, then, whether you will devote 
your leisure to writing twenty or twenty-five songs suitable to the particular 
melodies which I am prepared to send you. A few songs, exceptionable only 
in some of their verses, I will likewise submit to your consideration ; leaving it 
to you either to mend these or make new songs in their stead. It is superfluous 
to assure you that I have no intention to displace any of the sterling old songs : 
those only will be removed which appear quite silly or absolutely indecent. 
Even these shall all be examined by Mr. Burns, and if he is of opinion that any 
of them are deserving of the music, in such cases no divorce shall take place. 

To Mr. Thomson's request the Poet acceded with enthusiastic 
ardour. In a letter, dated Dumfries, 16th September, he informs 
Mr. Thomson that compliance with his wish would " positively add 
to his enjoyments," and that he was willing to enter at once upon 
the undertaking. He concludes : — 

As to remuneration, you may think my songs either above or below price ; 
for they shall absolutely be the one or the other. In the honest enthusiasm 
with which I embark in your undertaking, to talk of money, wages, fee, hire, 
etc., would be downright prostitution of soul. 


The correspondence so begun between Mr. Thomson and the 
Poet was statedly continued till within a few days of the death of 
the latter. That correspondence is included in the usual editions of 
the Poet's works ; it relates chiefly to the subject of their common 
labours in the revision and purification of the national minstrelsy. 
As the Poet strongly insisted on fulfilling his part without 
lemuneration, Mr. Thomson was naturally reluctant to press upon 
him the acceptance of any pecuniary acknowledgment ; but having 
ventured, on the 1st of July 1793, to send him the sum of five 
pounds, he communicated witli liim in these words: — 

As I shall be benefited by tlie publication, you must suffer me to enclose 
a small mark of my gratitude, and to repeat it afterwards when I find it 
convenient. Do not return it, for, by Heaven ! if you do, our correspondence 
is at an end; and though this should be no loss to you, it woiild mar the 
publication, which, under your auspices, cannot fail to be respectable and 

In reference to Mr. Thomson's gift the Poet wrote thus : — 

I assure you, my dear sir, that you truly hurt me with your pecuniary 
parcel. It degrades me in my own eyea. However, to return it would savour of 
bombast affectation ; but, as to any more traffic of that debtor and cretlitor kind, 
I swear by that Honor which crowns the upright statue of Robert Rurks's 
Inteoritv, on the least motion of it, I will indignantly spurn the by-past 
transaction, and from that moment commence entire stranger to you I Bums's 
character for generosity of sentiment and independence of mind will, I trust, 
long outlive any of his wants which the cold, unfeeling or© can supply ; at least, 
I shall take care that such a character he shall deserve. 

In February 1796 Mr. Thomson presented Mrs. Burns with a 
Paisley shawl, the bestowal of which the Poet gracefully acknow- 
ledged ; and when, just nine days before his death, the Bard dreaded 
incarceration for a small debt at the hands of a draper in Dumfries, 


he begged Mr. Thomson for five pounds as an advance on literary 
service. Mr. Thomson promptly sent the money ; but, as his entire 
pecuniary contribution to his eminent coadjutor only amounted to 
a total of ten pounds, he was afterwards, on that account, sub- 
jected to attack. The imputation that he had acted penuriously 
was certainly unjust, inasmuch as the Poet had stoutly resented the 
offer of recompense. But long after the time when he had been 
unjustly aspersed, and the effect of the hostile criticism had all 
but subsided, Mr. Thomson, in his letter to Dr. Robert Chambers, 
refers to the subject thus : — 

Had I been a selfish or avaricious man, I had a fair opportunity, upon tho 
death of the Poet, to put money in my pocket; for I might then have 
published for my own behoof all the beautiful lyrics he had written for me, 
the original manuscripts of which were in my possession. But instead of doing 
this, I was no sooner informed that the friends of the Poet's family had come 
to a resolution to collect his works, and to publish them for the benefit of 
the family, and that they thought it of importance to include my MSS. as 
being likely, from their number, their novelty, and beauty, to prove an 
attraction to subscribers, than I felt it my duty to put them at once in 
possession of all the songs and of the correspondence between the Poet and 
myself : and accordingly, through Mr. John Syme of Kyedale, I transmitted 
the whole to Ur. Currie, who had been prevailed on, immensely for the 
advantage of Mrs. Burns and her children, to take on himself the task of editor. 
For thus surrendering the manuscripts, I received, both verbally and in writing, 
the warm thanks of the trustees for the family, Mr. John Syme and Mr. Gilbert 
Burns, wbo considered what I had done as a fair return for the Poet's generosity 
of conduct to me. 

If anything more [adds Mr. Thomson] were wanting to set me right with 
respect to the anonymous calumnies circulated to my prejudice, in regard to the 
Poet, I have it in my power to refer to a most respectable testimonial, which, 
to my very agreeable surprise, was sent me by Professor Josiah Walker, one of 
the Poet's biographers ; and had I not been reluctant to obtrude myself on the 
public, I should long since have given it publicity. The Professor wrote me as 
follows : — - " 


"Perth, 14//i April 1811. 

. "Dear Sir, — Before I loft £(linbur};h I «ent n copy of my account of BuniM 
to Lord Wooilhousolee ; and since my rotum I have had a letter from his 
Ix>nl8hip, wliidi, among othor p:i8sagos, contains one tluit I cannot withhold 
from you. Hu writes thus: — * I am gla<I that you have embraced the occasion 
which lay in your way of doing ftiU juHtico to Mr. George Thomson, who, I 
agree with you in thinking, was most harslily nnd illil)oriilly treated by an 
anonymous dull calunniiator. I have always regarded Mr. Thomson as a man 
of great worth ami most res[)ectable character ; and I have every reason to 
lielievo that poor Bums felt himself as much indebted to his good counsels and 
active friendsliip as a man, as tlie public is sensible he was to his good taste and 
juilgnient as a critic' " 

Of the unbiasscil opinion of such a highly resi)ectable gentleman autl acc-um- 
plished sdiolar as Ix)rd Wooiihouselee, I certainly feci not a little proud : it is 
of itself more than sufHcient to silence the calumnies by which I have been 
assailed, first anonymously, ami afterwards, to my great surprise, by some writers 
who might have been exj>ectcd to possess sufficient ju«lgment to see the matter 
in its true light. 

The first lialf volume of Mr. TIioukschi'.s work wa.s published in 
folio in 1793, under the title of >Se/fr^ Collection of Oriyinal Scottish 
Airs for the Voice, with Symphonies and Accompaniments for 
the Pianoforte, Violin, etc., hi/ Pleyel, Kozeluch, Haydn. 
Beethoven. In the second half volume, which appeared in August 
1798, was presented the following certificate by the Poet, which, 
undated, has been assigned to the 18th of May '"'^'^ " — 

I do hereby certify and declare, That ALL the Songs of my writing, 
published and to be published by "Sir. Georgi* Thomson of Edinburgh, are so 
published by my authority. And, moreover, that I never empowered any other 
person whatever to publish any of the Songs written by me for his Work. 
And I authorize him to prosecute, in his own name, any person or persons who 
shall publish any of those Songs without his consent. In testimony whereof, 
etc. Robert Burns. 

VOL II. 2 N 


Volume II. of Mr. Thomson's work was issued in July 1799, 
cand, as it contained twenty-eight lyrics by the Poet, Mr. Thomson 
presented a copy to Mr. Gilbert Burns, who acknowledged the gift 
in these words : — 

If ever I come to Edinburgh, I will certainly avail myself of your invitation 
to call on a person whose handsome conduct to my brother's family has secured 
my esteem, and confirmed to me the opinion that musical taste and talents 
have a close connexion with the harmony of the moral feelings. 

Mr. Thomson's collection extended to five folio volumes, of 
which the third appeared in December 1801, the fourth in 1805, 
and the fifth and last in 1818. In 1822 he began to reproduce his 
work in octavo ; it was completed in May 1825 in six volumes. 

Besides his great work on Scottish Song, Mr. Thomson issued 
anonymously in 1807 a volume entitled, Statement and Review of 
a Recent Decision of the Judge of Police in Edinburgh, author- 
izing his Officers to make Domiciliary Visits in Private to stoj:) 
Dancing, etc., by Civis. In 1809 he produced, in ioYio, a Select 
Collection of Original Welsh Airs adapted for the Voice, united 
to Characteristic English Poetry. 

On the 3rd March 1847, a few days before he had completed 
his ninetieth year, Mr. Thomson was publicly presented with an 
elegant silver vase, the contribution of one hundred gentlemen in 
Edinburgh as a token of their esteem. On that occasion Lord 
Cockburn, who presided, spoke thus : — 

It is pleasant to admire a man for his public services ; it is pleasant to pay 
a tribute to his understanding ; but it is far more gratifying to the heart to say 
that you love him for his virtues. ... As to the imputations on Mr. Thomson 
in connexion with the history of Burns, I have long ago studied the matter with as 
much candour as any man could apply to a subject in which he had no personal 
interest, and my clear conviction is, not only that all those imputations are 
groundless, but that, if Mr. Thomson were now placed in tlie same situation in 
which he was then, nothing different or better could be done. 


In 1848 Mr. Thomson was induced by some members of bia 
family to change his residence from liJdinburgh to London ; but, 
after reniainini^ in the metropolis only a few months, he finally 
returned to ISeothiiid. He died at Leith on the 18th February 
1851, at the advanced asje of ninety-four. Ilis remains were 
deposited in Kcnsal ({nen (.'emetery, London, where. 1)\ the 
inemljcrs of his family, he has been suitid)ly commemorated. 

Mr. Thomson married, in 1784, Katherine Miller, daughter of a 
lieutenant in the 50th Regiment, and of the union were lx>m two 
sons and fiv^e daughters. 

Robert, the elder son, entered the anny, and attained rank as 
lieutenant-colonel of Engineers. He married Harriet, daughter of 

I^tham, banker in Dover, by whom he had three sons and 

several daughters. George, the eldest son, a colonel in the army, 
died in 1886. Alfred, the second son, emigrated to Austmlia, where 
he realized a fortune. Frederick, the youngest son, is a clergyman 
of the Church of J^ngland. Harriet, the eldest, m.inied 
General Hallifax ; she is now a widow. 

William, the younger son, joined the civil department of the 
army, and became Assistant - Commissary - General. He married 
Barbara Sinclair, who, on the death of her only brother, succeeded 
to the valual)le estate of Freswick, in Caithness. ITie only child of 
the marriage, William Thomson Sinclair, Esq., of Freswi<l: r- ^ides 
at Dunbeath Castle, Caithness. 

Of Mr. George Thomson's five daughters, Katherine, the eldest, 
married Robert Stark, architect, with issue a daughter, Katherine, 
who died unmarried. 

JNlargaret, second daughter, died unmarried, at a very advanced 
age. Anne, third daughter, married Dr. William Fisher ; she died 
at an advanced age without issue. 

Georgiua, fourth daughter, married, 1st June 1814, George 


Hogarth, Esq., W.S.,^ and died in 1864. Of the marriage were born 
five sons and five daughters. Robert, the eldest son, settled in 
Jamaica, where he died in 1843. George, second son, died in India 
in 1841. William Thomson, third son, is resident in London. 
James Ballantyne, fourth son, died in Australia in 1872. Edward, 
fifth son, died in 1878. 

Catherine Thomson, the eldest daughter of George Hogarth and 
Georgina Thomson, married, in 1836, the celebrated Charles Dickens, 
and became the mother of his children ; she died in November 1879. 
Mary Scott, second daughter, and first of the name, died in infancy. 
Mary Scott, third daughter, second of the name, born in 1820, died 
in 1837. Georgina, fourth daughter, resides in London. Helen 
Isabella, fifth daughter, married Richard Roney, with issue a 

Helen, youngest daughter of George Thomson, died unmarried, 
at an advanced age. 

Keith Thomson, uterine brother of Mr. George Thomson, was a 
teacher of music, and in that capacity was employed by the 
magistrates of Inverness. He died at Inverness in November 1855, 
at the age of eighty-three. 


When in Hugh Roger's cottage in Kirkoswald village, prosecuting 
his mathematical studies in the summer of 1776, Burns remarked 
from the window, in her father's garden, fifty yards ofi*, the charming 

^ Mr. Hogarth abandoned legal pursuits in Morning Chronicle. He published a History 
1831, and, after editing newpapers at Exeter of Music, and other works, 
and Halifax, joined, in 1835, the staff of the 


figure of Peggy Thomson, then in her seventeenth year.' In 
his autobiographical letter to Dr. Moore, the Poet writes : — 

I spent my sovcntoonth summer a good distance from home, at a noted 
school on the smuggling const, to leam mensuration, surveying, dialling, etc., 
in which I made a pretty goo<l progress. ... I went on with a high hand in 
my geometry, till the sun entered Virgo,' a month which is always a carnival 
in my bosom. A charming Jillette, who lived next door to the school, overMet 
my trigonometry, and set me off in a tangent from the spheres of my studies. 
I struggled on with my sines and co-sines for a few days more ; but, stepping 
out to the garden one charming noon to take the sun's altitude, I met with my 
angel — 

Like Proserpine gathering flowers. 
Herself a fairer flower — 

It was in vain to think of doing any more good at school. The remaining week 
I stayed I did nothing but craze the faculties of my soul about her, or ateal out 
to meet with her ; and the two last nights of my stay in the country, had aleep 
been a mortal sin, 1 was innocent. 

In Peggy's honour Burns composed his song beginning *' Now, 
westlin' winds and slaught'ring guns ; " but his attachment to the 
object of his early passion was evanescent, since, on being informed, 
several years after his first meeting her, that she was about to be 
married, he received the announcement with complacency. In a 
letter to Thomas Orr, dated 11th November 1784, he writes, in allu- 
sion to an untoward event which had occuned in his private history, 
" I am very glad Peggy is off my hand." Peggy became the wife 
of one of the Poet's old friends, Williatn Neilson, farmer at Minny- 
bee, in Kirkoswald parish. The marriage was solemnized at Kirk- 
oswald on the 23rd November 1784.* 

' rpggy's father, Robert Thoinson, was a * Kirkoswald Parish Regiatrr. In the 

joiner, much employed by the noble family at Library edition of Ruras's Work^ Edinbargh, 

Culzean. 1877-79 (rol. iv. 144), Peggy *8 hosband is, by 

^ 23rd August. the editor, described as John Neilson. 


In August 1786 the Poet paid a visit to Carrick, with the 
twofold purpose of obtaining payment of subscription copies of his 
poems, and of bidding adieu to old acquaintances in the prospect of 
his voyage to Jamaica. Among those visited by him were William 
and Mrs. Neilson at Minnybee. To Mrs. Neilson he presented a 
copy of his poems inscribed with these lines : — 

Once fondly lov'd, and still remember'd dear, 

Sweet early object of my youthful vows, 
Accept this mark of friendship, warm, sincere, — 

Friendship ! 'tis all cold duty now allows. 

And when you read the simj^le artless rhymes, 

One friendly sigh for him — ho asks no more. 
Who, distant, burns in flaming torrid climes, 

Or haply lies beneath th' Atlantic roar. 

To a copy of these verses, carefully engrossed in the Glenriddel 
volume of MS. poems, the Poet has appended these remarks : — 

Written on the blank leaf of a copy of the first edition of my Poems, ^vhicll 
I presented to an old sweetheart, then married. 'Twas the girl I mentioned in 
my letter to Dr. Moore, where I speak of taking the sun's altitude. Poor 
Peggy ! Her husband is my old acquaintance, and a most worthy fellow* 
When I was taking leave of my Carrick relations, intending to go to the West 
Indies, when I took farewell of her, neither she nor I could speak a syllable. 
Her husband escorted me three miles on my road, and we both parted with tears, 

Margaret Thomson survived her husband, and settled in Kirk- 
oswald village, where she kept a small shop. She had a son, John, 
who engaged in weaving at Kirkoswald ; also two daughters, who 
latterly resided in Ayr. All died unmarried. 



Thomas Turnbull, a native of Roxburghshire, settled in Kilmarnock, 
where, about the year 1770, he was employed as a dyer in a factory of 
the place. Familiarly known as " Tammy Trumble," he was frequently 
of an evening to be found in a small tavern, rejoicing his companions 
by his sprij^ditly talk, or delighting them by his melody. Unlinppily 
he carried with him to the taproom his son Gavin, who, when his 
own circumstances were somewhat affluent, he had intended to 
educate for the Church. 

By his father Gavin Turnbull was entered in a carpet manufac- 
tory at Kilmarnock, but after a time he contracted desultory habits, 
and became indigent. lie now took shelter in a small and uncom- 
fortable attic, of which one to whom his circumstances were known 
has given the following description : — 

He resided alono in a small garret in which there was no furniture. The 
bed on which he lay was entirely comix)sed of straw, with the exception of an 
old patched covering, which ho thi-cw over him during the night He had no 
chair to sit upon. A cold stone placed by the fire served him as such ; and the 
sole of a small window at one end of the room was all ho had for a table, from 
which to take his food, or on which to write his verses. A tin kettle and a 
sjwon were all his cooking utensils ; and when he prejmred a meal for himself, 
he used the lid of the kettle instead of a bowl I Perhaps no poet, either migor or 
minor, ancient or modem, ever existed in so wretched a condition.* 

Even in circumstances so untoward Gavin Turnl)ull could 
vivaciously invoke the Muse, From his wretched garret he 
addressed an ode to David Sillar, in the same style of versifying 

' Conttmporariet of Burnt [by James Patersoti], Edinb. 1840, p. 93. 


as that in which, in the first "Epistle to Davie," he had been 
addressed by Burns. The following is a specimen : — 

In a wee housie, warm and snug, 
I sit beside the cliinila lug 

And spin awa' my rhyme. 

Then heedna, Davie, though we he 
A race exposed to misery, 

A' mankind hae their share ; 
Yet wi' the few whase hearts are fired 
Wi' love o' sang, by Him inspired, 

"Wliat mortals can compare 1 
How sweet when in the feeling heart 

Alternate passions glow ; 
The mix'd ideas to impart, 

To paint our joy and woe ! 
Desire doth conspire 

Wi' love to form the sang, 
While pleasing and easing 
The numbers glide alang. 

The sweets o' nature a' are ours, 

The verdant fields, the blooming flowers, 

The woodland and the plain : 
To us the bonnie months of spring 
Delights and soft sensations bring 

The vulgar ne'er attain. 

About the year 1787, Gavin, accompanied by all the members 
of his father's family, left Kilmarnock for Glasgow, and there he 
engaged in manual labour. From the press of David Niven, printer 
in Glasgow, he issued in 1788 a small volume, entitled Poetical 
Essays. In the preface he writes : — 

The author of the following Essays, deprived in early life, by unforeseen 
misfortunes, of the means of pursuing that liberal plan of education he once 


had a prospect of, hoa not the vanity to imagine they have either that degree of 
novelty of invention, or correctness of versification, which will stand the test 
of rigid criticism. 

lie adds that : — 

Some unfavourable circumstances in his situation, by hastening the publica- 
tion, luivo prevented them from receiving that degree of correction they would 

ollu'rwist' liavi' ohtaiticd. 

The volume, which embraces 224 pages, is divided into five 
departments, — Elegies, Pastorals, Odes, Poetical Essays in the 
Scottish dialect, and Songs. Written in the manner of Shenstone, 
the verses entitled " Myra " thus proceed :— 

Tiie forests are mantled in green. 

The hawthorn in blossom looks gay. 
The primrose and daisy are seen, 

And birds carol sweet on the spray. 
Tis now the gay season of love. 

Soft raptures inspire every heart ; 
Come, Myra, retire to the grove, 

While I my fond passion impart. 

You say that you doubt if I love ; 

From whence can such fancies arise 1 
If words are too languid to prove, 

'Tis seen in the glance of mine eyes. 
Believe me, thou charmer divine. 

Those valleys can witness my pain, 
The streams join their murmurs with mine, 

And the echoes have leam'd to complain. 

I'm young, and too simple to lie. 

To call thoe a goddess or queen ; 
^fy flame is reveal'd in that sigh, 
My blushes explain what I mean. 
VOL. ir, 2 


My passion's so mild and sincere, 
And chaste as the innocent dove ; 

I call thee not false nor severe, 
'Tis sure the completest of love. 

I walk by the whispering grove, 

Where the zephyrs sound soft thro' the spray, 
I mourn with the amorous dove, 

And join the sweet nightingale's lay. 
Those sounds are so mournfully sweet, 

That mirth seems unpleasant to me 
I'd leave the fond thought with regret 

Of indulging a passion for thee. 

I lie by the verge of the stream, 

Whose murmurs oft lull me to rest 
I court the kind flattering dream. 

To lay me supine on thy breast ; 
I wake, and I fold thee in vain. 

The shade is too subtle to keep ; 
I foolishly dote on my pain. 

And find it a pleasure to weep. 

The pleasures that wait on the spring, 

The flowers and the fair-budding tree, 
The joys that the summer can bring, 

Are tasteless when absent from thee : 
The warblers that sing from the grove, 

In vain do their melody flow ; 
But when with the maid that I love 

'Tis enchantment wherever I go. 

I covet not jewels and gold ; 

The rich I unenvied can see ; 
No treasure on earth I behold, 

No jewel so precious as thee. 


With mo to my cottage retire, 

Unburthen'd with treasure and wealth, 
Let love all our pleasures inspire, 

And live in contentment and health. 

A poem entitled "The liarcl," inscribed to Mi. Kfoljcrt] 
B[urns], is written in the Spenserian stanza, and abounds in oKsoletc 
words. We quote the opening stiinza : — 

thou, whom from the pleasant banks of Ayr 

Thy merit summon'd to Edina's walls, 
"VVhoso songs delight her sons and daughters fair. 

And loudly echo through their splendid halls ; 

On thee a simple Poet humbly calls, — 
A simple Poet, who obscured the while. 

The fear of scornful critic sore nppals ; 
On whom, if Coila's Bard vouchsafe to smile, 
His name shall spread abroad thro' Albion's sea-girt isle. 

A poem of some length, descriptive of scenery on " Irvine 
Water," abounds in graceful touches. In a poem on the " Vicissi- 
tudes of Fortune," the writer refers to some of the circumstances of 
his early life, and to the changes in his worldly fortune, and concludes 

plaintively : — 

But, all ! how vain are human schemes, 
Illusive visions, empty dreams, 
Which, when wo grasp, our hope's betray'd, 
We lose the substance for the shade. 

Abandoning handicraft labour, TurnbuU turned his attention to 
the drama, and became a player. He was one of Sutherland's 
company at Dumfries, which Burns warmly patronized before he left 
EUisland. In his letter to George Thomson, of the 29th October 
1793, the Poet quotes and recommends to his correspondent's notice 
four of Tumbull's songs. He writes : — 


Your objection to the English song I proposed for "John Anderson, my jo,' 
is certainly just The following is by an old acquaintance of mine, and, I 
think, has merit. The song was never in print, which, I tliink, is so much in 
your favour. The more original good poetry your collection contains, it certainly 
has so much the more merit : — 


Tune — "John Anderson, my jo." 

condescend, dear charming maid, 
My wretched state to view, 

A tender swain to love betray'd. 
And sad despair, by you. 

While here all melancholy 

My passion I deplore, 
Yet urged by stern, resistless fate, 

I love thee more and more. 

1 heard of love, and with disdain 

The urchin's power denied ; 
I laugh'd at every lover's pain. 

And mock'd them when they sigh'd. 

But now my state is altered, 

Those happy days are o'er ; 
For all thy unrelenting hate 

I love thee more and more. 

yield, illustrious beauty, yield, 

No longer let me mourn ; 
And though victorious in the field, 

Thy captive do not scorn. 

Let generous pity warm thee. 

My wonted peace restore ; 
And grateful I shall bless thee still. 

And love thee more and more. 


The following address of TurnbuU's to tho Nightingale will suit as an 
English song to the air "There was a lass, and she was fair." By the by, 
TurnbuU has a great many songs in MS. which I can command, if you like his 
manner. Possibly, as he is an old friend of mine, I may be proiudiccd in his 
favour ; but I like some of his pieces very much. 

THE nightingale:. 

Thou sweetest minstrel of the grove, 

That ever tried the plaintive strain, 
Awake thy tender tale of love. 

And soothe a |K)or forsaken swain. 

For though tho Muses deign to aid, 

And teach him smoothly to complain ; 
Yet Delia, charming, cruel maid. 

Is deaf to her forsaken swain. 

All day with fashion's gaudy sons 

In sport she wanders o'er the plain ; 
Their tales a])prove, and still she shuns 

The notes of her forsaken swain. 

When evening shades obscure tho sky, 

And bring the solemn hours again. 
Begin, sweet bird, thy melody, 

And soothe a poor forsaken swain. 

I shall just transcribe another of Tumbull's which would go charmingly to 
" Lewie Gordon : " — 


Let me wander where I will, 
By shady wood, or winding rill ; 
Where the sweetest May-bom flowers 
Paint the meadows, deck the bowers ; 


Where the linnet's early song 
Echoes sweet the woods among : 
Let me wander where I will, 
Laura haunts my fancy still. 

If at rosy dawn I choose 
To indulge the smiling Muse ; 
If I court some cool retreat, 
To avoid the noontide heat ; 
If beneath the moon's pale ray, 
Thro' unfrequented wilds I stray : 
Let me wander where I will, 
Laura haunts my fancy still. 

When at night the drowsy god 
Waves his sleep-compelling rod, 
And to fancy's wakeful eyes 
Bids celestial visions rise ; 
While with boundless joy I rove 
Thro' the fairy land of love : 
Let me wander where I will, 
• Laura haunts my fancy still. 

Replying to our Poet's letter, Mr. Thomson writes: "Your 
friend Mr. Turnbull's songs have doubtless considerable merit ; and, 
as you have the command of his manuscripts, I hope you will 
find some that will answer, as English songs, to the airs yet 

Early in 1794 Turnbull printed by subscription, in pamphlet 
form, a small collection of his poems. Writing in 1798, Alexander 
Campbell, in his History of Poetry in Scotland, remarks that " the 
* Poetical Essays ' of Mr. Turnbull are such as to do him the 
highest credit ; " he adds, " I am hopeful he will go on ; for, in 
truth, the specimen already before the public gives, so far as I 
understand, uncommon satisfaction." Mr. Thomas Crichton of 


Paisley, in a memoir of Alexander Wilson, written in 1819,* 
remarks : — 

With Gavin Tunibull, another young author, who sometimea visited WilMm, 
I was well acquainted. The volume of poems which he published . . . conaisU 
mostly of pooms of the elegiac or melancholy cast, songs, and a few pieces in 
the Scottish dialect of the humorous kind. . . . When I became acquainted 
with Turnbull, he was like his friend Wilson, involved in pecuniary difficulties, 
owing, in a great measure, to his having neglected to prosecute with diligence 
the mechanical employment which he had been taught, devoting so much of his 
time and attention to writing verses, and to his having become inconsiderately 
an unsuccessful author. When he made his occasional visits to Paisley, I Iiad 
often an opportunity of conversing with him ; and, when at a distance, he waa 
sometimes my correspondent. He was a well-informed young man, had read a 
great deal of poetry, and was particularly fond of Shenstone, of whoee elegies 
and pastorals he was a successful imitator; and he had a very correct judgment 
in criticizing the poetical comix}sition3 of others. Like our late townsman, 
Tannahill, he had a happy talent for song-writing. His {)octical genius intro- 
duced him to the acquaintance of Bums, who ranked him among his friends. 
. . . This young poet, by his devotedness to his favourite pursuit, got into an 
unsettled mode of life, entered on the stage, and soon after married one of the 
actresses. The last time I ever saw him, I think, was on the streets of Gla^;ow, 
some time during 1792, when he was passing along with a number of the 
theatrical party, when I had a short conversation with him, and bade him a 
kind adieu. 

Gavin Turnbull and his wife emigrated to the United States ; 
their future history cannot be traced. Turnbull was small in stature, 
and of a dark complexion. 

* " Biographical Sketches of Alexander Wilson " in the nVairrn' Maijazinr, vol. ii. Paialey, 



The Rev. George Tytler, ordained minister of Premnay, Aberdeen- 
shire, in 1733, was in 1745 translated to Fearn in the county of 
Forfar, and there died on the 29th July 1785, in the seventy-ninth 
year of his age and fifty-second of his ministry.^ By his wife, 
Janet Robertson, he had two sons, James and Henry William. 

Henry William, the second son, born at Fearn in 1752, practised 
as a physician, first at Brechin and afterwards at Edinburgh. In 
1793 he issued in quarto a translation of Callimachus in English 
verse; in 1797, Pwdotrophia; or, the Art of Nursing and Rear- 
ing Children, a poem translated from the Latin of Scevole de Ste. 
Marthe ; and, in 1804, A Voyage Home from the Cape of Good 
Hope, and other Poems. He completed a translation of the 
seventeen books of the poem on the Runic Wars by Silius Italicus, 
but this work has not been printed. Dr. Tytler died on the 
24th August 1808. 

James, elder son of the Rev. George Tytler, is the subject of the 
present memoir. Educated by his father, especially in classical learn- 
ing, he chose the medical profession, and was articled as apprentice to 
Mr. Ogilvie, surgeon and chemist, at Forfar. Thereafter he attended 
medical classes at Edinburgh, having acquired the necessary funds 
by making two voyages as surgeon on board a Greenland whaler. 
Completing his medical studies, he contracted marriage with a 
woman in humble life, and attempted at Edinburgh to obtain 
practice as a surgeon. Finding the profits of his vocation utterly 
inadequate to the pressing wants of his household, he removed to 
Leith, and there opened a shop for the sale of chemical preparations. 
To this step he was induced partly in the belief that, having joined 

* Fasti Eccl. Scot., iii. 591, 831. 


the Glassites, a new religious sect, of which his wife was a member, 
lie would from the members of that society receive the requisite 
• ncourngement. His connexion with the Glassites was soon after- 
wards dissolved. Sustaining mercantile cmbaiTassments, he proceeded 
to Berwick, and afterwards to Newcastle, in both these j)lacos seeking 
employment by preparing for druggists certain chemical compounds. 
Again lacking success, he contracted obligations he could not satisfy, 
;iud, being pursued by his creditors, he in 1772 sought shelter from 
arrest by entering the sanctuary at Ilolyrood. Meanwhile his 
wife returned to her relations, carrying with her their five children, 
of whom the youngest was only six months old. For the privation 
of domestic happiness he solaced himself by composing a humorous 
ballad entitled "The Pleasures of the Abbey." From the sanctuary of 
I lolyrood he afterwards issued Essays on the most important Subjects 
of Natural and Revealed Religion. This work was unwritten, but 
was set up in types by his own hand as the ideas arose in his mind, 
and was also printed by him at a press of his own construction, 
lie had intended to extend his essays to a second volume, but, as the 
iiret was completed, he turned aside to attack the doctrines of the 
Bereans, a new religious sect. In producing this work, which he 
entitled, A Letter to Mr. John Barclay OJi the Doctrine of 
Assurance, he again performed the functions of author, compositor, 
and pressman. Within the precincts of the Abbey he next started 
the Gentleman's and Lady's Magazine, which he soon abandoned 
for the Weekly Review, a miscellany which also had a brief existence. 
An Abridgment of the Universal History was his next enterprise ; 
he prepared one volume, according to his former method. 

Mr. Ty tier now ventured to leave the miserable apartments which 
he had occupied in the debtors' sanctuary for more comfortable 
quarters, first at Eestalrig, next at Duddingston, and afterwards in 
the city. At Duddingston he was accommodated in the cottage 

VOL. II. 2 p 


of a washerwoman, whose inverted tub formed his ordinary writing- 
table. By the booksellers employed as a translator and editor, he con- 
trived to secure their esteem and confidence. And now an important 
undertaking was entrusted to his care. The first edition of the 
Encyclopaedia Britannica, commenced in 1771 under the editorship 
of Mr. William Smellie, and comprised in three quarto volumes, had 
proved a financial success, and a new and extended issue was 
contemplated. But the proprietors, Messrs. Bell & Macfarquhar, 
failed in inducing Mr, Smellie to join them in the new enterprise, 
and in their emergency they applied to Mr. Tytler. In the prospect 
of being rejoined by his wife and children, he undertook the duties 
of editor and compiler, under the stinted allowance of sixteen 
shillings per week. The money was received weekly, and one of 
Mr. Tytler's daughters, then a small girl, used to relate in after 
years that she was despatched by her father for his weekly 
allowance, and that she was made aware that on the reception of 
the money depended the family's next meal. Mr. Tytler was more 
liberally recompensed when the Encyclopaedia passed into the third 
edition. To this edition he contributed, among many other 
scientific papers, the article "Electricity," which was held to possess 
a high merit. 

While mainly occupied with the Encyclopaedia, Mr. Tytler 
prosecuted various scientific enterprises, including a course of 
experiments in chemistry, electricity, and mechanics. He invented 
a process for bleaching linen. With a Mr, Robert Wright at 
Colinton, he was concerned in a manufactory of magnesia, which, 
on his retiring from the management, realized much money to his 
partner and successors. Constructing a balloon on the plan of 
Montgolfier, he ascended from Comely Green on the north of Edin- 
burgh, but, owing to a defect in the mechanism, he was compelled 
to descend at the distance of a quarter of a mile. The occurrence, 


witnessed by a large concourse of spectators, and tcnniuating so 
unsatisfactorily, brought upon him the sobriquet of '* Balloon 

Mr. Tytler continued his literary activities. Occupying wretched 
apartment.s, and the family duties proceeding around him, he com- 
posed a History of Kduiburyh, Review of Dr. Aitkens Theory of 
Inflammation, Remarks on Pinkertoiis " Introduetion to the Ilis- 
tory of SeotlamI," A Poetical Translation of Virgil's Eclo^ies, An 
Answer to the Second Part of Paine's " Age of Reason" and 
A General Index to the Scots Magazine. He achieved a literary 
success by compiling The Edinburgh Geographical Grammar, 
which had the merit of superseding Outhrie's Geographical 
(irammar, which, though often rei)rinted, abounded with errors. 

Familiar with poverty, and deficient in self-respect, Mr. Tytler 
continued to occupy the most wretched lodgings, while he subsisted 
on the coai-sest food, and presented himself on the public streets 
clad in the meanest apparel. Subject to moods of despondency, he 
liad recoui*sc to stimulants, and was understood at intervals to be 
under the infiueuce of liquor. With only a few companions, he, 
instead of frequenting the clubs, improved his leisure by playing 
upon the Irish bagpipe, which he did sweetly, or singing 
favourite melodies, also songs which he had personally written. 

Attracted by his musical and poetical tastes, Bums formed his 
personal acquaintance, but under circumstances of which we are 
uninformed. When the Poet entered upon the editorship of 
The Scots Musical Museum, he secured him as one of his staff. 
To the Museum Mr. T}'tler contributed several songs, including 
" The Young Man's Dream," and two others, founded on older 
ditties, beginning, " I hae laid a hen-ing in saut," and "The Bonnie 
Brucket Lassie." Eeferring to the last, the Poet writes in one of 
his Commonplace Books : — 


The two first lines of this song are all of it that is old. The rest of the 
song, as well as those songs in the Museum marked T, are the works of an obscure, 
tippling, but extraordinary body of the name of Tytler, commonly known by the 
name of " Balloon Tytler," from his having projected a balloon ; a mortal who, 
though he drudges about Edinburgh as a common printer, with leaky shoes, a 
sky-lighted hat, and knee-buckles as unlike as George-by-the-grace-of-God, and 
Solomon-the-son-of-David ; yet that same unknown, drunken mortal is author 
and compiler of three-fourths of Elliot's pompous Enci/clopxdia Britannica, 
which he composed at half a guinea a week. 

As a literary and scientific writer Mr. Tytler attained wide 
recognition. At his humble dwelling in Hastie's Close, Adam 
Square, he was visited by persons of various stations, seeking 
counsel on general affairs, and in quest of literary assistance. 
Known as a contributor to the Medical Commentaries, he was in 
the year 1792 emploj^ed by a surgeon to prepare for publication 
A System of Surgery. He was engaged with this work, when, in 
opposition to his former modes, he rashly allied himself with those 
political malcontents known as the " Society of Friends of the 
People." In this connexion he entered into an exposition of the 
abuses of government in A Pamijhlet on the Excise, and more 
systematically in a periodical publication, entitled The Historical 
Register, in which he largely indulged in personal invective. Next 
entering into the extreme views of the British Convention, he issued 
a handbill, written in a style so inflammatory as to be deemed 
seditious by the authorities. A warrant was issued for his 
apprehension, and, after skulking some time in Edinburgh, he 
contrived to escape to Ireland, where he resumed his literary labours. 
Cited before the High Court of Justiciary, and not appearing, he 
was on the 7th January 1793 subjected to outlawry. After an 
interval he sailed for the United States, and, proceeding to Salem 
m Massachusetts, he there, in connexion with a printer, established 
a newspaper. At Salem in 1799 he published A Treatise on the 


league and Yellow Fever, in an ocUivo volume. His literary 
ililigence continued, accompanied, unha[»pily, with occasional relapses 
into intemperate habits, lie was accidentally drowned in a clay-pit 
near Salem in January 1804. On quittin<^ Edinburgh in 1792, he 
bade a linal adieu to his wife and children, all of whom sought 
subsistence by handicraft labour. In 1805 a biographical sketch of 
his life and labours, accompanied by a jwrtrait, was published 
anonymously, the author being Mr. Robert Meek, who had formed 
a high estimate of his integrity and virtues. 


Elizabeth Knox, third and youngest daughter of John Kno.x, the 
celebrated Reformer, married, in 1594, about her twenty-fourth year, 
Mr. John Welsh, successively minister of the parishes of Selkirk, 
Kirkcudbright, and Ayr. In 1G06 Mr. Welsh was banished to 
France by James VI., for asserting the independence of the Church. 
Returning to Great Britain, he died at London on the 2nd April 
1G22, at the age of iifty-three ; his wife, Elizabeth Knox, died at 
Ayr in January 1625. To the spouses were born three sons and 
two daughters. Louise, the youngest daughter, born at Jousac, in 
France, in May 1613, is believed to have settled in Fifeshire, and 
there married, one of her daughters becoming the wife of David 
Walker, a farmer in the parish of Leslie, and member of a family 
rigidly devoted to the Presbyterian polity.* 

' For details we refer to (7<nealoykal Mi- Walker rcsta ujwn tradition, th»t tradition is 

moirs of John Knox, priiitwl for the Grampiiiii so strong and definite in every branch of the 

Club, pp. 142-153. While the connexion be- Walker family, that its origin can be acooanted 

tween the Kuox- Welsh family and that of for only on the belief of a veritable basis. 

302 777^5" BOOK OF ROBER T B URNS. 

From a stray volume of the baptismal register of Leslie, pre- 
served in the library of Worcester College, Oxford, we find that 
David Walker was baptized on the 7th February 1630. He had a 
son, David, who, born in 1666,^ was licensed to preach in July 
1687, and was ordained joint-minister of Temple, in the Presbytery 
of Dalkeith, in November 1688, becoming in 1692 sole minister 
of the parish.^ A man of remarkable piety, he kept a journal, in 
which he made a daily record of his ministerial labours and religious 
experiences. It is preserved in the family. Mr, Walker died on 
the 14th August 1737, in the seventy-seventh year of his age and 
forty - ninth of his ministry. By his wife, Margaret Paterson, he 
had four sons, Archibald, Josias, David, and Thomas ; also three 
daughters, Margaret, Anne, and Christian. 

Archibald Walker, the eldest son, licensed to preach 26th April 
1732, was ordained minister of Temple, in succession to his father, 
on the 28th September 1738 ; he died on the 28th January 1760. 
By his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of William Carlisle, merchant, 
Glasgow, he left issue.^ 

Josias, second son of Mr. David Walker, was baptized on the 1 1 th 
January 1695. He graduated at the University of Edinburgh, and 
was ordained minister of Abdie, in Fifeshire, on the 27th April 
1721. He died 17th May 1745. By his wife, Margaret, eldest 
daughter of Sir Michael Balfour, Bart., of Denmyln, he had a son, 

Thomas, fourth and youngest son of Mr. David Walker, minister 
of Temple, born in 1703, laureated at the University of Edinburgh 
on the 26th March 1723, and, on the 6tli June 1727, was licensed 
by the Presbytery of Dalkeith. He was, on the 24th August 1732, 
ordained minister of Dundonald, in the county of Ayr. For the 
duties of the pastoral office he had made careful and earnest pre- 

1 Family MS. - Fasti EccL Scot., i. 308. ' Ibid. * Ibid. ii. 468. 


paration. From bis clglitcenth year, he, in the manner of his 
father, kept a journal, in which he recorded the daily occurrences of 
liis life, together with liis spiritual exercises. The MS., which com- 
inen(;es on the IGth November 1721, is continued till March 1749, 
and is a not uninteresting record of the activities of a faithful 
pastorate. Devoted to literary studies and theological inquiry, Mr. 
Walker published at Edinburgh, in 1774, an octavo volume of 
upwards of four hundred pages, entitled A Vindication of the Dis- 
cipUne and Constitution of the Church of Scotland for Presemnng 
Parity of Doctrine, in rcjily to a Book entitled, " TJie Religious 
Kstahlishmcnt in Scotland examined upon Protestant Principles^* 
addressed to the Author of that Book. In his work Mr. Walker 
attacks the theory of Socinus with much cogency and force ; he 
otherwise indulges a tone of geniality and humour. After a periovl 
of declining health, Mr. Walker died on the 13th August 1780, in 
the seventy-seventh year of his age and forty-eighth of his ministry. 
A volume of Essays and Semions from his pen was published 

Mr. Thomas Walker of Dundonald was thrice married. By his 
first wife, Mary Montgomerie, he had a daughter, Jean, who dieil 
young. He married, secondly, 21st May 1742, Jean, daughter 
of Mr. James Robertson, minister of Craigie, by his wife, Anna, 
daughter of John Wallace of Ilolmston, by whom he had three sons. 
David, the eldest, born 11th July 1743, became factor to a Glasgow 
ctmipany trading with Maryland, and died in 1780. Robert, the 
second son, born 24th June 1745, adopted the nautical profession ; be 
sailed in a merchant vessel from Bristol about the year 1770, which, 
not being heard of, was supposed to have foundered at sea. James, 
tlie third son, born 22nd March 1747, settled in the West Indies, 
where he died in 1781. Mr. Thomas Walker married, thirdly, on 
the 2nd March 1749, Anne, eldest daughter of William Shaw, ship- 


builder, Irvine, with issue, six sons and three daughters. Two of 
the daughters, each named Mary, died in childhood. Margaret, born 
15th June 1752, married, 25th April 1785, Mr. William Grierson, 
minister of Glencairn ; she died 11th April 1816, leaving issue. 
William, born 5th November 1755, died young. Archibald, born 
21st January 1758, proceeded to Maryland in 1772, as clerk to his 
brother David. Refusing to serve in the revolutionary army under 
General AVashington, he, in 1777, returned to this country. In 
1779 he embarked as a marine officer on board a privateer armed 
with thirty-two guns, which was lost at sea, with all on board. 

Thomas, born 2nd August 1759, studied medicine at the Uni- 
versity of Edinburgh, and, in 1777, proceeded to Antigua as 
assistant to Dr. Aird, surgeon. He afterwards became surgeon to 
the 33rd Regiment of Foot, and, in 1790, settled as a medical 
practitioner in Irvine, where he died in 1833. He married, in 1793, 
Mary, second daughter of Charles Fleming of Montgomeryfield, 
Irvine, with issue four sons, Thomas, Charles, Josiah, and William 
Montgomery ; also four daughters, Margaret, Elizabeth, Mary Anne, 
and Millicent Rebecca. 

Josiah, youngest son of Mr. Thomas Walker by his third wife, 
Anne Shaw, was born in the manse of Dundonald on the 8th July 
1761. Studying at the University of Edinburgh, he there gra- 
duated. Afterwards devoting himself to tutorial work, he prosecuted 
that vocation at Edinburgh for the period of seven years. On the 
28th January 1783 he was elected a member of the Speculative 
Society, and in connexion with the institution composed essays 
" On the Lawfulness of Suicide," and on the " Circumstances which 
contributed to form the Character of the French," also " A Pindaric 
Ode on American Independence." ^ 

Early in 1787, Josiah Walker was preferred to the office of 

1 Hiistory of the Speculative Society of Edinburgh, p. 159. 


private tutor to tlie Marquis of TuUibardiiie, eldest son of John, 
fifth Duke of Athole, then in his ninth year. He subsequently 
accompanied his pupil to Eton, and continued in attendance ujKjn 
him until his death, which took place in 179G. His acquaintance 
with the Poet commenced under circumstances which he has circum- 
stantially related. lie writes : — 

Ejirly in tlio year 1787 a friend from Kilinl»urgh infoniicil njo of the sensa- 
tion then creatoil in that city by a bartl of my native county, and promii«ed to 
bring me his volume on a subsequent visit. By his praise of its contents my 
expectations were very modcmtely excited, as in my own mind I instantly 
classed the poetical plon},'hniau witli the iHJotical milkmaids and thrashers of 
England, of whose productions I was no violent admirer. But, had the case 
been otherwise, all I could have anticipated would have been far surpass* .1. I 
was born within a few miles of the cotUige of Allowa}', and in that vicinity 1 
chiefly spent those years of youth when impressions are most lively and 
permanent, and continue to be recalled through life with frequency and fond- 
ness, by bringing along with tliem that portion of the past on which it is most 
pleasing to dwell. The same horizon which presented its daily outline to his 
eye was also mine. In the same dialect, even to accents and phrases of the 
most limited locality, we both first learned to express our thoughts, and 
to both the paiois of Kyle appeared, for many years, to be the only language of 
nature. Thus prepared, the i)oems were put into my hands j and before 
finishing a page I experienced emotions of surprise and delight of which I had 
never been so conscious before. The language that I had begxm to despise, as 
tit for nothing but colloquial vulgarity, seemed to be transfigured by the sorcery 
of genius into the genuine language of poetry. It expressed every idea with a 
brevity and force, and bent itself to every subject with a pliancy in which the 
most perfect languages too often fail. Every line awakened a train of associa- 
tions ; every phrase struck a note which led the mind to j»crform the 
accompaniment. On every page the stamp of genius was impres.««od. All was 
touched by a hawd of that astonishing dexterity, as to seem only performing its 
easiest and most habitual functions, when accomplishing what every other 
would attempt in vain. I never quitted the volume till I had finished its 
perusal ; and I can recollect no equal period to have passed more rapidly than 
the hours in which I was thus engaged. 
VOL. II. 2 Q 


In a subsequent narrative Mr. Walker proceeds to supply details 
of his forming the Poet's personal acquaintance at the breakfast- 
table of Dr. Blacklock, and on the evening of the succeeding day 
at the supper- table of Dr. Blair. These details are embodied else- 
where in the present work. Mr. Walker and the Poet afterwards 
met at the table of Professor Dugald Stewart ; they soon became 
warm friends, Mr. Walker estimating alike the Poet's compositions 
and his striking and manly conversation, while the Bard was 
gratified with the social qualities and general capabilities and accom- 
plishments of one hailing from the same province. 

Though already retained as tutor to the young Marquis, Mr. 
Walker did not enter on the systematic discharge of his duties till 
some time after midsummer 1787 ; he then joined his pupil at the 
ducal seat of Blair Castle in Perthshire. When, in the following 
September, the Poet, in his tour with William Nicol, reached Blair- 
Athole, Mr. Walker received from him a message notifying his 
arrival at the inn, when he hastened to wait upon him arid his 
friend ; and as the Poet had transmitted to the Castle a letter of 
introduction to the Duke, the Duchess, in his Grace's absence, 
conveyed through the tutor a request that he and Mr. Nicol would 
sup and sleep at the Castle. Accepting her Grace's polite invita- 
tion, the Poet and his travelling companion remained at the Castle 
two days, and, as the Duke had returned home and bade the 
travellers a cordial welcome, the visit had been prolonged but for 
Mr. Nicol's usual impatience. 

Leaving Blair -Atliole on the 2nd of September, the Poet 
proceeded to Inverness, and from thence conveyed to Mr. Walker 
in prose and verse an expression of his gratitude for the hospitality 
which had by his friend's noble constituents been extended to him. 
In his letter to Mr. Walker, which is dated the 5th September, he 
proceeds : — 


My Dear Sir, — I have just time to writ© the foregoing, and to tell you that 
it was (at least most part of it) (lie effusion of an half-hour I spent at Bruar. 
I do not mean it was exicmpoir, for I Imve endeavoured to brush it up as well 

as Mr. N 's r-hat, and tlie jogging i>{ the cliaiso would allow. It eases my 

heart a good deal, as rhyme is the coin with which a poet pays his debts of 
honor or gratitude. What I owe to the noble family of Atholc, of the first 
kind, I shall ever proudly l)oast ; what I owe of the last, so help mo God in 
my hour of need ! I shall never forget The " little angol-band ! " I declare I 
prayed for them very sincerely to-day at the Fall of Fyers. I shall never forget 
the fine family piece I saw at Blair : the amiable, the truly noble Duchess, with 
her smiling little seraph in her lap, at the head of the table ; the lovely " olive 
plants," as the Hebrew bard finely says, round the happy mother ; the beautiful 
Mrs. Graham, the lovely sweet Miss Cathcart,^ I wish I had the jwwers of 
Guido to do them justice. My Lord Duke's kind hospitality — markedly kind 
indeed ; Mr. Graham of Fintray's charms of conversation ; Sir W. Murray's 
friendship : in short, the recollection of all that polite, agreeable company raises 
an honest glow in my bosom. 

This communication was appended to the Poet's verses entitled, 
" The Humble Petition of Bruar Water to the noble Duke of Athole." 
In the last stanza the Poet specially alludes to the family circle at 
the Castle in these lines : — 

So may old Scotia's darling hope, 

Your little angel-band. 
Spring, like their fathers, up to prop 

Their honour'd native land ! 
So may, through Albion's farthest ken. 

To social-flowing glasses, 
The grace be — " Athole's honest men, 

And Athole's bonnie lasses ! " 

* Mrs. Graham of Balgowan and Miss Cath- National Portrait Gallery at Edinburgh. Her 

cart were daughters of Lord Cathcart and husband, Thomas Graham of Balgowan, entered 

sisters of the Duchess of Athole. All the three the anny after her death, and became known aa 

sisters predeceased the Poet. The portrait of the hero of I^rossa ; he waa created Lord Lyne- 

Mrs. Graham, by Gainsborough, is now in the doch. Hediedin 1848, at theageofninety-four. 


In allusion to Mr. Walker's attention to liim during his Blair- 
Atliole visit, the Poet has in his Journal the following entry : 
" Confirmed in my good opinion of my friend Walker." 

Towards the end of October 1787 Mr. Walker visited Burns at 
the house of Mr. William Cruikshank, in St. James's Square, 

I found him — writes Mr. Walker — seated by the harpsichord of this young 
lady [Mr. Cruikshank's daughter], listening with the keenest interest to his 
own verses, which she sang and accompanied, and adjusting them to the music 
by repeated trials of the effect. In this occupation he was so totally absorbed 
that it was difficult to draw his attention from it for a moment. 

Accompanying his pupil to Eton, Mr. Walker does not seem to 
have renewed his intimacy with the Poet during the long period of 
seven years. But in November 1794 ^ he paid him a special visit at 
Dumfries. He found the Poet " sittino- in a window-seat readino", 
with the doors open, and the family arrangements going on in his 
presence." The Poet invited his visitor to accompany him in a 
walk by the Nith's banks. During the walk he repeated the frag- 
ment of his " Ode to Liberty." 

On the afternoon of the second day, the friends had a social 
meeting at the Globe tavern, and on this occasion Mr. Walker 
remarked that the Bard lacked in his conversation somewhat of the 
unaffected ease of former times. 

Through a cerebral ailment, which terminated fatally in 1796, 
the young Marquis of Tullibardine was unable to prosecute his 
studies, with the result that Mr. Walker was, as his preceptor, 
thrown out of emjjloyment. But Mr. Walker was not long after- 
wards appointed, on the nomination of the Duke of Athole, to the 

' In his printed narrative Professor Walker names the year of his visit as 1795 : this has heen 
shown to be a slip of memory. 


Collectorship of Customs at Perth, one of those offices which were 
not imfrequently reserved as a recompense for scholastic or literary 
service. In 1782 Mr. Walker had evinced a poetical aptitude by 
publishing, in ([uarto, his " Monody on John Thurlow, Esq.," whicli, 
in 1785, he f<)llo\ve<l by printing, in quarto, an "Ode addressed to 
the Society of Universal Glood-Will." When, at the close of his 
tutorial labours, he commanded a more abundant leisure, he devoted 
himself to literary composition with an abundant ardour. 

When the Perth Courier newspaper was established in the Con- 
servative interest, he was appointed to the editorship, and retained 
the connexion for a period of years. On the original staff of the 
Encyclopoedia Perthensis, he became one of its principal writers. 
In composing for that work a memoir of William Pitt, he found 
a congenial occupation, but he has with equal geniality and candour 
portrayed the career of Charles Fox, Pitt's illustrious rival. When 
the Edinhiirgh Encyclopedia was started, he was, by the editor, 
Dr. Brewster, nominated as a contributor, and his article on the 
Crusades in that publication is a historical composition of singular 
interest and value. 

On the recommendation of Professor Dugald Stewart, Mr. 
Walker was induced to translate the fables of the Duke de 
Nivcmois, which he did in elegant verse. As the work has 
long been out of print, a specimen may not be unacceptable. 


An heifer, doom'd to pay with blood 
The debt of human gratitude, 
In gorgeous pomp })y priests was led 
Where Jove's high altar rear'd its head. 
Her temples wore a flowery wreath ; 
Sad ornament !— presage of death. 


In truth, the King of Gods was wise, 

To shut his book from human eyes ; 

For stale and weary life would grow, 

Were men their future doom to know. 

Our heifer, with exulting pride. 

Beheld the crowds, on either side, 

Who throng'd with smiling flowers to spread 

The avenue to death that led. 

Two bulls, whose neck a yoke oppress'd 

She passed ; and Fortune inly bless'd 

For fixing her exalted place 

Above a destiny so base. 

How little did the heifer know 

The real state of things below ! 

How ignorant is simple youth ! 

How ready to misjudge the truth ! 

Thus seeks the nymph, whose royal hand 

Has been betroth'd, a foreign land ; 

There to embrace the nuptial vow ; 

Crowds, as she goes, adoring bow ; 

And she, poor maid, with pitying mind. 

Regards the homely village hind — 

The village hind, more happy far 

Than she in her triumphal car. 

At length, with splendid celebration, 

Arrives the day of immolation. 

And robs the heifer of her life ; 

Of liberty the royal wife. 

We oft remark, that, by the fate 

Assigned to this imperial state, 

If one a step of honour gains. 

Less private happiness remains ; 

And this exchange appears to rest 

In what for general good is best. 

On chosen men when nations shower. 

As proofs of favour, rank or power, 


The partial measure justice blames, 
And deems unfair to otiier claims, 
Unless tliey duly pay the price 
By sonic heroic sacrifice. 
This maxim let us then approve — 
A maxim generous bosoms love : 
May we the luimblo happy sec ; 
The exalted still the victims be ! 

In 1802 Mr. Walker published, in a small octavo volume, a 
poem entitled '* The Defence of Order." Dedicated to his patron, 
the Duke of Athole, the author sought to celebrate the achieve- 
ments of the Pitt ministry, on a scale more extensive than that of 
Addison's " Campaign." Of the work two considerable editions were 
exhausted within the year of issue, and when, in 1803, a third 
edition was produced, the work was deemed sufficiently important 
for an attack in the Edinhurcjli Review. The assailant was Henry 
Brougham, who, in seeking to crush Mr. Walker's poem, exerted 
his utmost powers of irony and sarcasm. The critic triumphed, for 
the poem at once waned in popular favour, and the sale at length 
all but ceased. Though lacking in unity, and in didactic force, 
" The Defence of Order " abounds in graceful diction. Mr. Pitt is 
celebrated thus : — 

Even he, who now, from Scotia's distant shore. 
His faint and feeble note presumes to pour, 
Partakes, in common with a rescued laml, 
The safety earned by thy protecting hand. 
« If Peace and Comfort round his humble shed, 

And IIojx) serene, their balmy pinions spread ; 
If still his hours with noiseless current flow, 
Kor harsh reverse uor rude obstruction know ; 
If still his board a wholesome meal display, 
And promise such to-morrow as to-day ; 


If still he feel, remote from storms and strife, 
The charms of nature and the sweets of life ; 
If still the Muse's woodland haunts he range, 
Unvexed by tumult, unalarmed Ly change ; 
If still he meet the rustic groups around. 
In manners sober and in morals sound ; 
Exchange kind greetings with the cordial boor, 
And mark no sullen breach 'twixt rich and poor : 
Whate'cr of good he feel, of comfort see. 
All, next to Heaven, Pitt ! he owes to thee. 

In 1811 Mr. Walker contributed an original and critical memoir 
of Burns to an edition of his Poetical Works projected by James 
Morison of Perth, and published by his trustees. In this work he 
has, as an intelligent and impartial observer of the Poet's modes, 
both at the commencement of his public career and also towards its 
close, rendered eminent literary service. 

Mr. Walker was in 1815 preferred to an office which he was pre- 
eminently qualified to adorn ; he was elected Professor of Humanity 
in the University of Glasgow. As a professor he proved assiduous 
and painstaking J while his weekly lectures on themes connected 
with Roman literature were alike distinguished by clearness of 
detail and elegance of diction. Possessing the confidence of his 
students, he seldom had occasion to reprove, while he rejoiced, 
as opportunity offered, to encourage the diligent. He taught 
humanity, it was remarked, not more by prelections in Roman 
literature than by the urbanity of his manners. Of those who 
have favoured us with reminiscences of Professor Walker, Mr. 
Urquhart, Free Church minister at Portpatrick, remarks that he 
cherishes the memory of his old preceptor with esteem, reverence, 
and gratitude. 

Professor Walker excelled as a conversationalist. He had taken 
part in some interesting scenes, and these he could pleasantly recall. 


Abouiuling in anecdote, his utterances were terse, forcible, and 
epigrammatic. Habitually jocose, he rejoiced to dilate on the 
wrecking of his poetical aspirations. 

Brougham satisfiod me— he would say — that I was not born a poet, and 
as to tlio unbound bales of my third edition, I was no worse off than Dr. 
Rogers, Provost of Eton, author of the jK)em * Judah Restored,' One of his 
sons, when he had company, was despatched to the cellar to fetch up an 
additional bottle of a choice vintage, and as he was on his return asked by him 
why he had been absent so long, he promptly answered that he had broke his 
shins on a lieavy bale of ' Juduh Restored.' 

The Professor was wont with much facetiousness to recall 
the incidents of his youth. To a poor woman at Dundonald her 
husband was brought home, shot dead by a bullet through his 
temples. Among the neighbour wives who assembled to offer their 
condolence was one who, on remarking the wound, ejaculated 
emphatically, " Eh sirs ! what a mercy it missed his e'e." 

After a few years of failing health. Professor Walker died at 
Glasgow on the 24th August 1831. Two MSS. from his pen are 
in the possession of his grandchildren, a translation of Anacreon's 
Odes, and an autobiographical fragment entitled " The Life of a 
Manse Household in 1780." The latter contains a vivid picture 
of parochial life, including an interesting portraiture of Susannah, 
C'Ountess of Eglinton, the patron of Allan Ramsay and entertainer 
of Dr. Samuel Johnson. 

Professor Walker married, in 1795, Margaret, daughter of Richard 
Bell of Cruvie, Dumfriesshire, by whom he had three sons and a 

Russel, only daughter of Professor Walker, married, 23rd August 
1827, her cousin, Mr. Thomas Grierson, minister of Kirkbean in the 
county of Kirkcudbright. This gentleman, who died 15th July 
1854, is remembered for his elegant tastes and remarkable jocundity. 

VOL. II. 2 R 


He published Allan Macgregor, a work of fiction, illustrative of the 
times of the Disruption, printed a collection of songs composed for 
his parish curling club, and issued a narrative of several pedestrian 
excursions he had made in the Highlands, also in the southern 
uplands. Mrs. Grierson died in 1886, in her ninetieth year. 

Thomas, eldest son of Professor Walker, born in 1796, became a 
doctor of medicine. In 1819 he entered on medical practice at 
Peterborough, where he attained a first rank in his profession. He 
died on the 16th December 1886, at the age of ninety-one. He 
married Mary, daughter of Edward Jenkins, Esq., of Thorpe Park, 
Peterborough, with issue three sons and five daughters. 

Josiah William, the eldest son, born 1833, is M.D., and is 
engaged in medical practice at Peckham Rye, Surrey. He married, 
first, Maria, daughter of William Johnston, with issue a son, Thomas 
Johnston ; secondly, Charlotte Henrietta, daughter of Herbert 
Cornewall of Dilbury Hall, with issue Cecil Geraldine and Archibald 

Thomas James, the second son, born 1835, is M.D. and physician 
at Peterborough. He married his cousin, Mary Eliza, second 
daughter of the Rev. Josiah Walker, with issue. 

Edward Richard, the third son, born in 1837, is vicar of Billing- 
hay, Lincolnshire. 

Of the daughters of Dr. Thomas Walker, Margaret Ellen married 
James Ellison, M.D., Windsor ; Mary Leonora married Walter 
Power, Esq., Ely ; Gertrude Helen married Henry Townsend, 
Esq., architect, Peterborough; Mary Eliza and Charlotte Sarah are 

Richard Graham, second son of Professor Walker, some time 
practised as a solicitor in Glasgow ; he subsequently settled at Hen- 
don, Middlesex. He married Eliza, daughter of Captain Winbolt, 
by whom he had a son, Richard Graham, born 1837, married, 1868, 


Mary Josephino, daughter of David O'Keiffc, Esq., of Youghal, county 
Cork ; also two daughters, Eliza, born 1833, married Tliomas Sarel, 
Esq., and Mary llussel, who died in 1854. 

Josiah, third and youngest son of Professor Josiah Walker, waa 
born at Perth in 1805. Having studied at the University of 
Glasgow with a view to the ministry of the Scottish Church, he 
some time assisted his father in the Humanity classes, and in 1831 
became assistant to the Professor of Hebrew in the same University. 
Unsuccessful as a candidate for the Hebrew chair, when it became 
vacant in 1832, he in the same year entered Trinity Hall, Cam- 
bridge. In 1836 he obtained ordci-s in the Church of England, and 
was appointed curate at Folkesworth in Huntingdonshire. In 1840 
lie was appointed to the charge of Stetchworth in Cambridgeshire, 
and there he added to his emoluments by receiving several young 
gentlemen as boarders. In 1850 he became vicar of Wood Ditton 
in the county of Cambridge, an office which he held till 1 880, when, 
owing to the pressure of infirmities, he retired from active duties. 
Returning to his native country, he established his residence at Edin- 
burgh, where he died on the 14th December 1882, at the age of 

Distinguished for his varied literary acquirements, Mr. Josiah 
Walker was a clear and forcible expounder of Divine truth. Both 
in prose and poetry he composed elegantly, and in a small publica- 
tion entitled Memorial of a Count ly Vicai\ edited by his daughter, 
Mrs. Rogerson, have been preserved some agreeable specimens of 
his writings. The volume is accompanied by a kindly, well-\kTitten 
memoir by the Rev. E. K. Bennet, D.C.L., as a tribute to a long 
and honoured friendship. 

^Ir. Josiah Walker married, in 1838, Mary Rice, daughter of 
Peter Lock, Esq., Surveyor of H.M. Customs, by whom he had 
four daughters. Margaret Bell, the eldest daughter, married, in 


1879, Mr. Alexander Rogerson of St. Midiael's, Lockerbie; Russel 
Mary, second daughter, born 1843, died in 1860 ; Mary Eliza, third 
daughter, married her cousin. Dr. Thomas J. Walker, Peterborough ; 
Christina Jessie, fourth daughter, is unmarried. 


Walter de Whytfoord, of the county of Renfrew, is witness to a 
charter of Alexander II., and in the reign of James I. John White- 
foord of that Ilk is named, while his successors in the barony appear 
from time to time up to the reign of James VI. 

The lands of Whitefoord passed from the elder branch, and the 
family came to be represented by the Whitefoords of Blairquhan, 
descended from a younger son of Whitefoord of that Ilk. A brother 
of Whitefoord of Blairquhan was Abbot of Crossraguel in the reign 
of James IV. Members of the family held lands at Balloch and 
Girvan ; also the estate of Kirkland at Maybole. They intermarried 
with many notable families in Ayrshire, including Blair of that 
Ilk, Kennedy of Ardmillan, and Cathcart of Carnock. Dr. Walter 
Whitefoord, a cadet of the family, was appointed Bishop of Brechin 
in 1635. In dread of personal violence, he read the Service-book in 
1637 with closed doors, himself and his attendants being severally 
armed. By the General Assembly of 1638 he was deposed and 
excommunicated ; he thereafter took refuge in England. 

Adam Whitefoord of Blairquhan was created a baronet on the 
30th December 1701 ; he died in 1728. By his wife, Margaret 
Cathcart, only daughter of Alan, seventh Lord Cathcart, he had 
three sons, John, Alan, and Charles. Charles, the third son, was 
colonel of the 5th Regiment of Foot. His son Caleb was the 
celebrated wit and satirical poet. 


Born at E<liiil)iirgli in 1734, Culel) Wliitefoord waa by his father 
intcndcfl for tlie clericnl profession, l)ut, as tlic proposal was distasteful 
to him, he was sent to London, anrl was there apprenticed to a wine 
merchant. Having assistc<l in tlie counting-house alK)ut four years, 
he on his father's death in 1753 proceeded to France, where he 
remained two years, till he attained his majority. Possessing a 
considerable patrimony, he on his return from the Continent com- 
menced business as a wine merchant in Craven Street, Strand, in 
partnership with a friend. Devoted to literary pursuits, he joined 
the Literary Club, and became an intimate associate of Dr. Samuel 
Johnson, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Dr. Goldsmith. Having got 
acquainted with Woodfall the printer, he at that gentleman's solici- 
tation became a contributor of siitirical pieces, both in prose and 
verse, to the Public Advertiser. His contributions were aften^'ards 
reproduced in TJie Foundling Asylum for Wit. Directing the 
shafts of his ridicule against Wilkes and other levellers, he attracted 
the attention of the Ministry, and on their behalf was requested 
to write a pamphlet on the subject of the misundersUinding which 
subsisted beween Great Britain and Spain, relative to the Falkland 
Islands. He declined the task, but recommended Dr. Johnson, who 
was accordingly enq)loyed. A humorous conversationalist, Mr. 
AVhitefoord drew forth tlie remark of Dr. Goldsmith that it was 
impossible to be in his company without being infected by his itch 
for punning. In " The Retaliation " Goldsmith has celebrated him 
in these lines : — 

Hero Whitcfoord reclines, and deny it wlio can, 
Though ho merrily liv'd, he is now a grave man : 
Rare compound of oddity, frolic, and fun ! 
"Who relish'd a joke, and rejoiced in a pun, 
AVhoso temper was generous, open, sincere, 
A stranger to flatt'ry, a stranger to fear. 


Who scattcr'd around wit and humour at will, 
Whose daily hon mois half a column might fill ; 
A Scotchman, from pride and from prejudice free ; 
A scholar, yet surely no pedant was lie ! 

What pity ! alas, that so lib'ral a mind 
Should so long be to newspaper-essays confin'd ! 
Who perhaps to the summit of science could soar. 
Yet content " if the table be set in a roar ;" 
Whose talents to fill any station were fit, 
Yet happy if Woodfall confess'd him a wit. 

Ye newspajier witlings ! ye jwrt scribbling folks ! 
Who copied his squibs and re-echoed his jokes ; 
Ye tame imitators, ye servile herd, come, 
Still follow your master and visit his tomb ; 
To deck it, bring with you festoons of the vine, 
And copious libations bestow on his shrine, 
Then strew all around it (you can do no less) 
Cross-readings, ship-news, and mistakes of the press,^ 

Merry Whitefoord, farewell ! for thy sake I admit 
That a Scot may have humour, 1 had almost said wit ; 
This debt to thy mem'ry I cannot refuse, 
Thou best-humour'd man with the worst-humour'd muso. 

According to Dr. Adam Smith, wits and authors who hated each 
other united in a common respect for Mr. Whitefoord. When 
Commissioners were appointed to treat of a general peace with 
America, Mr. Whitefoord w^as, owing to his intimacy with Dr. 
Franklin, appointed secretary to the British Commission. He died 
in 1809, at the age of seventy-five. 

Alan, second son of Sir Adam Whitefoord of Blairquhan, the 
first baronet, acquired the lands of Ballochmyle ; he is believed to 
have been the person of the name who was taken prisoner by the 
Highlanders at the battle of Prestonpans, and whose story has been 
interwoven in the romance of Waverley. He died without issue. 

1 In the Public Advertiser Mr. Caleb Whitefoord frequently composed pieces under these titles. 


John, the eldest son of Sir Adam Whitefoord, served in the 
army, and acquired the rank of major-general. Succeeding to the 
baronetcy and ancestral possessions, he was noted for his extra- 
vagance. Under the title of Sir Arthur Wardour, he is in the 
Antiquary depicted thus : — 

He talked of buying contiguous estates, that would have led him from one 
side of the island to the other, as if he were determined to brook no neighbour 
but the sea. He corresponded with an architect of eminence, upon a plan of 
renovating a castle of his forefathers, on a style of extended magnificence that 
might have rivalled that of Windsor, and laying out the grounds on a suitable 
scale. Troops of liveried menials were already, in fancy, marshalled in his 
halls, and — for what may not unbounded wealth authorize its possessor to 
aspire to? — the coronet of a marquis, perhaps of a duke, was glittering before 
his imagination. 

It was a part of Sir John Whitefoord's actual extravagance to 
construct a superb town residence at Edinburgh. This structure, 
styled Whitefoord House, was reared some time subsequent to 1742, 
at Galloway's Entry in the Canongate ; it occupied part of the site 
of a larger mansion of the Earl of Winton, noticed by Sir Walter 
Scott in the Ahhot, and now converted into a type - founding 

Sir John AVhitefoord, son of the preceding, succeeded as third 
baronet of Blairquhan. His ancestral estates were alienated, but on the 
death of his uncle Alan, he succeeded to the lands of Ballochmyle, 
which yield a present rental of £10,000. Sir John resided at 
Ballochmyle, and evinced no inconsiderable interest in local affairs. 
Master of St. James's Freemason Lodge of Tarbolton, he was, sub- 
sequent to its separation from its brother lodge of St. David's, in 
June 1782, called upon to convene a special meeting of the brethren. 
The event is memorable, inasmuch as the requisition inviting him 
to convene the lodge was composed by Burns, at a period consider- 


ably antecedent to liis becoming known as a poet. It contains these 

words : — 

We look on oiir Mason Lodge to be a serious matter, both with respect to 
the character of Masonry itself, and likewise as it is a charitable society. This 
last, indeed, does not interest you further than a benevolent heart is interested 
in the welfare of its fellow-creatures ; but to us, sir, who are of the lower orders 
of mankind, to have a fund in view, on which we may with certainty depend to 
be kept from want, should we be in circumstances of distress, or old age, this is 
a matter of high importance. 

A shareholder in the banking establishment of Douglas, Heron, 
& Co., of Ayr, which fell into liquidation, Sir John Whitefoord was, 
in 1785, under the necessity of disposing of his lands. The occur- 
rence awakened general sympathy, and the Poet, who, at Mossgiel, 
resided within two miles of the enclosures of Ballochrayle, composed 
on the occasion these plaintive lines : — 

The Catrine woods were yellow seen. 

The flowers decay 'd on Catrine lee, 
Xae lav'rock sang on hillock green. 

But nature sicken'd on the e'e. 
Thro' faded groves Maria sang, 

Hersel' in beauty's bloom the while ; 
And aye the wild-wood echoes rang, 

Fareweel the braes o' Ballochrayle ! 

Low in your wintry beds, ye flowers, 

Again ye'U flourish fresh and fair ; 
Ye birdies dumb, in with'ring bowers. 

Again ye'll charm the vocal air. 
But here, alas ! for me nae mair 

Shall birdie charm, or floweret smile ; 
Fareweel the bonnie banks of Ayr, 

Fareweel, fareweel ! sweet Ballochrayle ! 

On a moderate reversion Sir John Whitefoord removed from 
Ballochmyle to Whitefoord House at Edinburgh, where he was 


resident at the time when Burns, on the 28th November 1786, made 
his debut in the capital With Sir John he communicated three 
days afterwards. In his letter, which is dated the first December, 
he thus proceeds : — 

Sir, — Mr, Mackenzie, in Mauchline, my very warm and worthy friend, has 
informed me how much you are pleased to interest yourself in my fate as a man, 
and (what to mc is incomparably dearer) my fame as a poet. I have, sir, in one 
or two instances, been patronized by those of your character in life, when I was 
introduced to their notice by social friends to them, and honoured acquaintances 
to me ; but you are the first gentleman in the country whose benevolence and 
goodness of heart has interested himself for me, unsolicited and unknown. I 
am not master enough of the etiquette of these matters to know, nor did I stay 
to inquire, whether formal duty bade, or cold propriety disallowed, my thanking 
you in this manner, as I am convinced, from the light in which you kindly view 
me, that you will do me the justice to believe that this letter is not the 
manoeuvre of the needy, sharping author, fastening on those in upper life who 
honor him with a little notice of him or his works. Indeed, the situation of 
poets is generally such, to a proverb, as mvay, in some measure, palliate that 
prostitution of heart and talents they have at times been guilty of. I do not 
think prodigality is, by any means, a necessary concomitant of a poetic turn, 
but, I believe, a careless, indolent inattention to economy is almost inseparable 
from it ; then there must be in the heart of every bard of nature's making a 
certain modest sensibility, mixed with a kind of pride, which will ever keep 
him out of the way of those windfalls of fortune which frequently light on 
hardy impudence and foot-licking servility. It is not easy to imagine a more 
helpless state than his whose poetic fancy unfits him for the world, and whose 
character as a scholar gives him some pretensions to the politesse of life, yet is 
as poor as I am. For my own part, I thank heaven my star has been kinder ; 
learning never elevated my ideas above the peasant's shed, and I have an 
independent fortune at the plough-tail. 

Through his friend Dr. Mackenzie the Poet had learned that Sir 
John had upheld his reputation against a wanton and ungenerous 
attack, which led to his concluding his letter in these terms : — 

VOL. II. 2 s 


I was surprised to hear that any ono who pretended in the least to the 
manners of the gentleman shoukl l)e so foolish, or worse, as to stoop to traduce 
the morals of such a one as I am, and so inhumanly cruel, too, as to meddle 
with that late most unfortunate, unhappy part of my story. With a tear of 
gratitude, I thank you, sir, for the warmth witli which you interi^osod in behalf 
of my conduct. I am, I acknowledge, too frequently the sport of whim, caprice, 
and passion ; but reverence to God, and integrity to my follow-creaturos, I hope 
I shall ever preserve. I have no return to make, sir, for your goo<lness but one 
— a return which, I am persuaded, will not be unacceptable — the honest warm 
wishes of a grateful heart for your happiness, and everj' one of that lovely flock, 
who stand to you in a filial relation. If ever Calumny aim the poisoned shaft at 
them, may Friendship be by to ward the blow ! 

To the Poet's letter, Sir John's reply is alike courteous and 

business-like : — 

Edinburgh, 4/A December 1786. 

Sir, — I received your letter a few days ago. I do not pretend to much 
interest, but what I have I shall be ready to exert in procuring the attainment 
of any object you have r view. Your character as a man (forgive my reversing 
your order), as well as ♦ poet, entitle you, I think, to the assistance of every 
inhabitant of Ayrshiie. I have been told you wish to be made a gauger ; I 
submit it to your consideration, whether it would not be more desirable, if a 
sum could be raised by subscription for a second edition of your poems, to lay it 
out in the stocking of a small farm. I am persuaded it would be a line of life 
much more agreeable to your feelings, and in the end more satisfactory. When 
you have considered this, let me know, and whatever you determine upon, I 
will endeavour to promote as far as my abilities will permit. 

In a postscript Sir John adds : " I shall take it as a favour when 
you, at any time, send me a new production." 

In letters to Mr. John Ballantine of Ayr, dated the 13th, and 
to Mr. Robert Muir of Kilmarnock, dated the 15th December, 
the Poet names Sir John Whitefoord as one of his Edinburgh 
patrons. In this connexion he associates Sir John with the Duchess 
of Gordon, the Countess Dowager of Glencairn, Henry Erskine, 


Dean of Faculty, Professor Dugald Stewart, and Henry Mackenzie. 
To Sir John's kindly intervention Burns was chiefly indebted for the 
liberal patronage of the Caledonian Hunt. After he had intimated 
his intention of dedicating to the Hunt his second edition. Sir 
John, at a meeting held on the 10th January 1787, supported a 
motion by the Earl of Glencairn, that in recognition of the Poet's 
merit, and of the compliment paid to them, one hundred copies of 
the work should be subscribed for.^ 

Resident in Edinburgh, on a greatly reduced fortune, Sir John 
Whitefoord sought a life of retirement. In connexion with the Poet, 
his name reappears on a single occasion only. When Burns com- 
posed his celebrated " Lament for James, Earl of Glencairn," he sent 
a copy to Sir John, accompanied by the following lines : — 

Thou, who thy honor as thy God rever'st. 

Who, save thy mind's reproach, nought earthly fear'st, 

To thee this votive offering I impart, 

The tearful tribute of a broken heart. 

The friend thou valuedst, I the patron lov'd ; 

His worth, his honor, all the world approv'd. 

We'll mourn till we too go as he has gone. 

And tread the dreary path to that dark world unknown. 

Sir John Whitefoord continued to reside in Whitefoord House, in 
the Canongate, till his death, which took place in 1803. Tenacious 
of purpose, and not unconscious of his aristocratic descent, he was 
reputed for his personal courtesy and the afiability of his manners. 
His figure is portrayed in Kay's Edinburgh Portraits.'^ 

Sir John Whitefoord married Alice Mure, a member of the 
ancient house of RoM^allan. A lady of remarkable beneficence and 
Christian worth, she presented to the kirk-session of Mauchline a 

1 The Earl of Glencairn was one of the the 7th August 1777 ; Sir John Whitefoord 
original members of the Hunters' Club, after- joined on the 12th December 1777. 
wards the Caledonian Hunt, having joined on ^ Kay's Portraits, ed. 1842, vol. ii. 56. 


silver baptismal basin ; it was used for the first time on the 3rd 
August 1788.' 

The family of Sir John and Lady Whitefoord consisted of two 
sons and four daughters. Charles, the second son, born at Balloch- 
myle, 1st December 1770, died in infancy. John, the elder son, 
was one of the Poet's visitors during his first sojourn in the capital. 
Writing to Mr. Mackenzie, surgeon, Mauchline, on the 11th January 
1787, the Poet proceeds : — 

I saw your friend and my honored patron. Sir John Whitefoord, just after 
I read your letter, and gave him your respectful compliments. . . . His son, 
John, who calls very frequently on me, is in a fu.«« to-day like a coronation. 
This is the great day — the Assembly and Ball of the Caledonian Hunt ; and 
John has had the good luck to pre-engage the hand of the beauty-famed and 
wealth-celebrated Miss M'Adam, our countrywoman. Between friends, .T<>lin is 
desperately in for it there, and I am afraid will be de8j)erate indeed.' 

John Whitefoord, the Poet's visitor, predeceased his father. 

Of Sir John Whitefoord's four daughters, Mary Anne, the eldest, 
married Henry Kerr Cranstoun, grandson of William, fifth Lord 
Cranstoun, and died without issue. Her husband's sister, Helen 
D'Arcy, was wife of Professor Dugald Stewart. 

, second daughter, married Kennedy of Kirkmichael, 

in Ayrshire, with issue one son, who died unmarried ; also two 
daughters. The elder daughter married a physician in Girvan. 

The second daughter had settled upon her, by her brother, the 
paternal estate ; she married, with issue. 

Jane, third daughter, married Colonel Francis Cunyngham, 
without issue. 

Alice Lucy, fourth daughter, became, on the 2yth November 

1 Mauchline Parish Baptismal Register. Heaven spare you long to kiss the breath 
* In his poetical epistle to Mr. M'Adam of 0' mony flowery simmers ! 

Craigangillan, the Poet refers to his two And bless vour bonny lasses baith— 
daughters thus :- 1>^ tauld they're lo'esome kimmers ! 


1795, second wife of Henry, third Baron Vernon. She died on 
the 1st August 1827, leaving two sons. Henry Vernon, the elder 
son, became a lieutenant-colonel in the Grenadier Guards. He 
married, 29th August 1822, Eliza Grace, daughter of Edward Coke, 
Esq., of Longford Court, Derbyshire, and niece of Thomas William, 
first Earl of Leicester, and died 12th December 1845, leaving a son, 
Edward, and a daughter, Henrietta. John, the younger son, 
entered into holy orders, and became rector of Nuthall and Kirby- 
in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire. He married, first, 24th November 
1830, Frances Barbara, second daughter of Thomas Duncombe 
of Gossgrove, County York, by whom he had a son, Frederick, 
born 8th October 1834. His wife dying on the 7th November 
1848, the Eev. John Vernon married, secondly, 15th December 
1853, Caroline, daughter of the Honourable General Sir Edward 
Paget, G.C.B. He died on the 11th December 1875. 

JOHN WILSON (of Mauchline). 

In the last sheet of his Kilmarnock edition the Poet has presented 
the following epitaph on "Wee Johnie." 

Whoe'er tliou art, reader, know 

That Death has murder'd Johuie ; 
An' here his hody lies fu' loAv ; 

For saul he ne'er had ony. 

In reference to these lines, Mr. Scott Douglas writes : — 

From the day that Burns came before the world as an author till the day 
of his death, and seventy years beyond that event, the Poet's readers had a 
tacit understanding that these four lines had been waggislily inserted in the last 
sheet of the book as a satire — not a very wicked one — on his printer. How that 
understanding arose, does not appear.^ 

^ Library edition of Burns, Edinburgh, 1S77, 8vo, vol. i. p. 328. 



What was inexplicable at the time Mr. Scott Douglas composed his 
note has yielded to a little inquiry. The real " Wee Johnic " of the 
epitaph was not Mr. John Wilson, the Kilmarnock printer, but another 
person of the name, who, when the Poet was resident at Mo.ssgiel, 
conducted business at Mauchline as a l)Ookseller. "Wee Johnie" 
of Mauchline had, like the Poet himself, some dealings with the 
parochial session. Before that tribunal he, in terms of a citation, 
appeared on the 8th December 1785, when he acknowledged himself 
father of an illegitimate child. His sentence was deferred, there 
being evidently an inclination on the part of the majority of the 
court that he should be dealt with leniently. But one of the elders, 
James Speirs, vigorously dissented, asserting that, on account of 
Wilson's habitual profanity, atiy modified course of discipline was 
unwarranted. There were frequent adjournments, and at length, 
on the 27th April 1786, Mr. Wilson made a formal complaint against 
Speirs for slandering him. At a meeting held on the 10th May, the 
session appointed a committee to hold a conference with Wilson, 
and resolved, in the event of their reporting favourably as to his 
penitence, to absolve him on a single appearance. Against this 
procedure Speirs strongly protested, and charged his brethren as 
opposing themselves to good order, and "defeating the ends of 
discipline." Meanwhile the committee unsuccessfully endeavoured 
to reconcile the elder and the bookseller, but wdth the result that, 
at a kirk-session meeting held on the 25th of May, the parties 
came together before the court. Speirs now " insisted that he was 
as conscious as he was of anything" that he heard John Wilson 
swear profanely in a public company. On the other hand, Wilson 
indignantly denied the imputation, nor would he consent to any 
compromise unless the elder retracted his accusation, and consented 
to undergo a punishment — " a punishment proportionable to his 
offence." The session ruled that Speirs should confess " that he 


ought to have spoken with John Wilson in private before intro- 
ducing this affair into the session ;" they also enjoined him to ask 
Mr. Wilson's pardon ; and expressed their judgment that this 
concession should be accepted by Wilson. The concession was 
then made and accepted, and a motion was agreed to, dismissing 
the affair on account of irregularity in procedure, and desiring — 

the Moderator to inform James Speirs to be more cautious in bringing 
accusations of this nature into this court for the future, till he has, agreeably 
to the form of process, conversed several times with the accused person in 
private. ... At the same time the session desired their members to super- 
intend the morals of the people with all possible care, and to observe the rules 
of the Church in their conduct. 

In this transaction John Wilson acted with energy and vigour, 

affording no ground for any charge as to his being destitute of soul. 

Not improbably the Poet had, in a moment of grotesque humour, 

associated his satire with the bookseller in allusion to his smallness 

of stature rather than owing to his paucity of spirit. By Dr. 

Robert Chambers it is, we think, made clear tliat the Poet had 

prepared the Wilson epitaph after reading Nugw Venales, sive 

Thesaurus ridendi et jocandi, a work of humour, in which occurs 

the following epigram : — 

Oh Deus omnipotens, vituli miserere Joannis, 
Quern mors prseveniens non sinit esse bovem : 
Corpus in Italia est, habet intestina Brabantus 
Ast animam nemo : Cur ? quia non habuit. 

In closing these memoirs the writer conceives that he is called upon 
to offer some words of explanation. For, in entering on his under- 
taking, it was his intention to present a full and particular account 


of each individual commemorated, with corresponding genealogical 
details. But, though he cannot charge himself with any lack of 
diligence, he has, in not a few instances, failed to procure the 
needful materials. Thus, while the descendants or representatives 
of a large number of those noticed have courteously responded to 
his inquiries, others who were expected to be useful have remained 
silent. Yet, under all his disappointments, the writer believes he 
has succeeded in procuring as much original information aa to justify 
his labours. 

For Volume III. the writer has prepared a narrative of the 
Poet's lineage from strictly authentic sources, and should he, through 
feeble health, be unable personally to complete the work, he trusts 
the various materials which he has brought together may, in the 
hands of a competent successor, be so utilized as to effectively 
illustrate the Poet's history, and ser\^e the cause of biographical 



2 T 



Lesley Baillie. — Daughter of Robert Baillie, Esq., of Mayfield, 
Ayrshire, this young gentlewoman, who was eminently beautiful, is by the 
Poet celebrated in his songs beginning, "Oh, saw ye bounie Lesley," and 
" Blythe hae I been on yon hill." In dining with Mr. Baillie in July 
1788, the Poet was much attracted by the charms of Miss Lesley and her 
sister. In course of a journey to England, Mr, Baillie and his two daughters 
visited the Poet at Dumfries in August 1792, and the Bard, who much 
appreciated this attention, afterwards accompanied them on horseback for 
fourteen or fifteen miles. Writing to Mrs. Dunlop on the 22nd of August, 
he refers to the visit, and strongly expresses his admiration of Miss Lesley. 
It is interesting to remark that, in 1701, he, on a suggestion by Miss Lesley, 
made an alteration in the closing lines of his " Lament for James, Earl of 
Glencairn." In the Library edition of Burns's Works, vol. vi. p. 79, is 
printed an undated letter of the Poet to Miss Lesley, ascribed to ]\Iay 1793, 
which contains warm expressions of his regard. In June 1799 Miss Lesley 
Baillie married Robert Gumming, Esq., of Logic. 

Ellison Begbie. — This young woman, the subject of two of the Poet's 
songs, entitled, " The Lass of Cessnock Banks," and " Bonny Peggy Alison," 
both composed when he was in his twenty-second year, was daughter of 
a small farmer in the parish of Galston, and was some time a domestic 
servant with a family who lived near the Cessnock stream. Besides 
celebrating her in song. Burns addressed to her five letters in prose, warmly 
testifying his affection, and offering marriage. On receiving her declinature, 
he was for a time much dejected. 


Eev. William Boyd. — This reverend gentleman is named by Burns in 
the " Ordination." Presented to the Church living of Fenwick in 1780, his 
admission was strongly opposed by the parishioners, who barricaded the 
church door to prevent his settlement. By order of the General Assembly, 
he was ordained to the charge at Irvine in 1782. Afr. Boyd died on the 
I7th October 1828, in his eighty-first year. He was a pronounced member 
of the " New Light " party. 

Hugh Brown. — The miller in the poem of " Tarn o* Shanter," Hugh 
Brown was tenant of Ardlochau Mill, near Shanter farm. Son of William 
Brown, tenant at Jamestoun, in the parish of Kirkoswald, he was baptized 
on the 25th September 1720. Hugh Brown remained unmarried. He was 
related to the Poet maternally. 

EiCHAUD Bkovvn. — According to the parish register, Iiichard P>rown was 
son of William Brown and Jane Whinie, spouses, and was born at Irvine 
on the 2nd June 1753. To his early acquaintance with this person the 
Poet refers in his biographical letter to Dr. Moore. After informing his 
correspondent of the unfortunate issue of his attempt to establish himself as 
a flaxdresser at Irvine, he alludes to his there forming the intimacy of 
Iiichard Brown. 

From this adventure [he writes] I learned something of a town life ; l)ut the 
principal thing which gave my mind a turn was a friendship I formed with a 
young fellow, a very noble character, but a helpless son of misfortune. He was 
the son of a simple mechanic ; but a groat man in the neighbourhood, taking 
him under his patronage, gave him a genteel education, with a view of bettering 
his situation in life. The patron dying just as lie was ready to launch out 
into the world, the poor fellow, in despair, went to sea, wliere, after a variety 
of good and ill fortune, a little before I was acquaiutetl with him, he had been 
set on shore by an American privateer on the wild coast of Connaught, stripped 
of everytliing. I cannot give this poor « fellow's story without atlding that he 
is at this time master of a large West Indiaman, belonging to the Thames. His 
mind was fraught with independence, magnanimity, antl every manly virtue. 
I loved and admired him to a degree of enthusiasm, and of course strove to 
imitate him. In some measure I succeeded. I had pride before, but he taught 
it to flow in proper channels. His knowledge of the world was vastly superior 
to mine, and I was all attention to learn. He was the only man 1 ever saw 
who was a greater fool than myself where woman was th(^ presiding star ; but 
he spoke of illicit love with the levity of a sailor, which hitherto I had regarded 
with horror. Here his friendship did me a mischief, and the consequence was, 
that soon after I resumed the plough, I wrote the " Poet's Welcome." 


At the time he became acquainted with Eichard Brown, the Poet was 
in his twenty-third year. To Brown he afterwards addressed letters at 
intervals, and of these seven have been included in his correspondence. 
In his first letter, dated at Edinburgh, 13th December 1787, he commences 
thus : — 

My Dear Sir, — I have met with few things in life which have given me 
more pleasure than Fortune's kindness to you since those days in which we met 
in the vale of misery ; as I can honestly say that I never knew a man who 
more truly deserved it, or to whom my heart more truly Avished it. I have been 
much indebted since that time to your story and sentiments for steeling my 
mind against evils, of which I have had a pretty decent share. jSEy Will-o'-wisp 
fate you know : do you recollect a Sunday we spent together in Eglinton 
Woods ? You told me, on my repeating some verses to you, that you wondered 
I could resist the temptation of sending verses of such merit to a magazine. 
It was from this remark I derived that idea of my own pieces, which encouraged 
me to endeavour at the character of a poet. 

In a letter to Mr. Brown, dated Ellisland, 4th November 1789, the Poet 
writes, — " You are the earliest friend I now have on earth, my brothers 
excepted, and is riot that an endearing circumstance ? " The Bard then 
invokes the Divine blessing on his friend, his wife, and children. 

Mrs. Catherine Bruce. — During the Poet's visit to Harvieston in the 
autumn of 1787, he, in company with his fellow-traveller, Dr. Adair, 
visited Mrs. Bruce of Clackmannan. By Dr. Adair an account of the visit 
is presented in these words : — 

A visit to Mrs. Bruce of Clackmannan, a lady above ninety, the lineal 
descendant of that race which gave the Scottish throne its brightest ornament, 
interested his feelings more powerfully [than the sight of the romantic scenery 
of Glendevon, which he had just been visiting]. This venerable dame, 
with characteristical dignity, informed me, on my observing that 1 believed she 
was descended from the family of Robert Bruce, that Kobert Bruce was sprung 
from her family. Though almost deprived of speech by a paralytic affection, 
she preserved her hospitality and urbanity. She was in possevssion of the hero's 
helmet and two-handed sword, with which she conferreil on Burns and myself 
the honour of knighthood, remarking that she had a better right to confer that 
title than some jteople. You will, of course, conclude that the old lady's 
political tenets were as Jacobitical as the Poet's, a conformity which contributed 
not a little to the cordiality of our reception and entertainment. She gave as 
her first toast after dinner, Awa Uncos, or, " Away with the Strangers." Who 
these strangers were you will readily understand. Mrs. A. [Charlotte Hamilton] 
corrects me by saying it should be Hooi, or Hooi UnfoSy a sound used by 
shepherds to direct their dogs to drive away the sheep. 


Mrs. Bruce was daughter of Alexander Uruce, of the family of Newton, 
and early in life became the wife of Henry liruce, Esq., of Clackmannan, 
chief of the family. Her lineage has been traced to Sir Robert Bruce, 
whom David II., in bestowing upon him the lands of Clackmannan, 
describes in the charter as his cousin. Mr. Henry Bruce of Clackmannan 
died on the 8th July 1772, so that Mrs. Bruce, when the Poet visited her, 
was in the fifteenth year of her widc'|hood. By John Bamsay of Ochtertyre 
she is thus described : — 

With a very moderate incoi. jT she has, for many years— both in her 
husband's time and in lier widoMyood — seen a great deal of gootl company in 
lier house, besides giving plent' ully to her indigent neiglibours. Her i)lain, 
liearty meals, seasoned with kin» less and care, are more pleasing to a sentimental 
guest than the studied refinerlenta of tlie vain and luxurious. She never 
changed her fashions, but adiie/ed strictly to the maxims and economics that 
prevailed in her younger days ; land in her house there is no waste, nor any of 
those modish innovations which ktraiten other people, without having any show. 
When on the borders of foursc« \b she used to rise at six in the morning to see 
that everything was in order. ^ ' 

Subsequent to her husband's death, Mrs. Bruce continued to reside in 
the old tower of the family, situa ted on an eminence at the west end of 
the town of Clackmannan. 7.'heresTie d'led on the 4th November 1791, at 
the age of ninety-five. She bequeathed the sword and helmet, which she 
believed to have belongti^r) King Bobert, to the Earl of Elgin. 

— o' 

David, ELEVE>frn Eat Z of Buchan. — This energetic and patriotic, but, 
withal, eccentrio noblemr i was born on the 1st Juno 1742, and succeeded 
the title ia 1767. Devoted to literary and artistic pursuits, also to 
■^J^qhseold-ic \i inquiries, ylie in 1780 became the founder of the Scottish 
Sociel^ of Antiquaries. Shortly after Burns's arrival in Edinburgh in 
November 1786, Lord Buchan formed his acquaintance, and soon after- 
wards communicated to him a letter of counsel. His letter, dated 1st 
February 1787, is now exhibited in the Poet's monument at Edinburgh. 
In acknowledging his Lordship's communication, Burns, in a letter dated the 
3rd February, uses these words : " Your Lordship touches the darling chord 
of my heart, when you advise me to fire my muse at Scottish story and 
Scottish scenes." During the summer of 1791, Lord Buchan erected at 

1 Scotland and Scotsmen, from the MSS. of John Eamsay, Esq., of OchtertjTC. Edinburgh, 
1888, vol. ii. p- 106. 


Ednam, near Kelso, a monument to James Thomson, author of " The 
Seasons," which included a bust of that poet. The bust he proposed to 
crown with laurel at a public ceremonial to be held on the 11th September, 
the anniversary of Thomson's birth, and he invited the Ayrshire Bard to give 
attendance, and to prepare for the occasion a suitable ode. Burns excused 
himself for not attendincr, on account of his beinjr enf'aged with his harvest, 
but sent to his Lordship his " Address to the Shade of Thomson," which has 
since been included in his works. The Poet transmitted to Lord Buchan in 
January 1794 a copy of his ode, " Bruce's Address at Bannockburn." 
When, on the 15 th October 1814, the Earl unveiled his colossal statue of 
Wallace, on the bank of the Tweed near Dryburgh, he at the same time 
crowned a bust of Burns at its base, expressing on the occasion twelve lines 
of verse he had composed in honour of the Poet's memory. He died on 
the 20th April 1829. Vain and self-opinionative, Lord Buchan was 
considerably gifted, and was much esteemed for his amiable qualities. 

Elizabeth Burnet. — This gentlewoman, the youngest daughter of James 
Burnet, Lord Monboddo, is by the Poet celebrated as " Fair Burnet," in his 
" Address to Edinburgh," and is also the subject of his elegy commencing, 
" Life ne'er exulted in so rich a prize." Miss Elizabeth Burnet died of a 
pulmonary ailment on the I7th June 1790. In transmitting to William 
Chalmers of Ayr his " Address to Edinburgh," the Poet remarks, in reference 
to Miss Burnet, " There has not been anything nearly like her in all the 
combinations of beauty, grace, and goodness tlie great Creator has formed 
since Milton's Eve on the first day of her existence." 

William Chalmers. — A writer and notary-public in Ayr, this gentleman 
is described by the Poet as "a particular friend." On the 24th June 1786 
Mr. Chalmers executed the notarial intimation of the assignation of his 
property in favour of his brother Gilbert, and on this occasion asked the 
Poet to recommend him in verse to a young lady to whom he was attached, 
and whom the Poet had met. Burns complied by composing the song, 
beginning " Wi' braw new branks in mickle pride." In a mandate, whim- 
sically drawn in the form of a public writ, and dated the 20th November 
1786, he charged Mr. Chalmers to superintend the burning of a song he 
enclosed to him, as being unsuited for public inspection. In a letter to 
Mr. Chalmers, dated 27th December 1786, the Poet commences: "My Dear 
Friend," and protests that, " of all men living," he had intended to have 


sent him "an entertaining letter;" he enclosed for him two of his recent 

Stephen Clahke. — A teacher ol innsic, and the orgaiii>L ol tlie Episcopal 
chapel in the Cowgate, Edinburgh, Mr. Clarke published, about the year 
1790, a small work, entitled "Two Sonatas for the Pianolorto or Harpsi- 
chord, in which are introduced favourite Scotch Airs." The work was 
dedicated to Mrs. Erskine, junior, of Mar. Mr. Clarke was employed by 
Johnson in arranging the airs for the Scots Mimcal MitMum. In this 
connexion he became known to the Poet, who, impressed with his abilities 
as a musician, warmly interested himself in his professional advancement. 
At the Poet's recommendation be was some time employed as a musical 
instructor by Mr. M'Murdo at Drumlanrig, also by Mr. Miller at Dalswinton. 
In a letter to Mr. George Thomson, dated 6th February 1705, the Poet 
writes : " I am confident that Clarke is equal in Scottish song to take 
up the pen after Pleyel." Mr. Clarke died at Edinburgli on tlie 6th August 
1797. In his offices he was succeeded by his son, William, who also 
rendered service to Johnson in harmonizing the airs for the concluding 
volume of the Muscuin. 

Lady Winifred Maxwell Constable. — This gentlewoman seems to have 
become known to the Poet through the family of Mr. Miller of IJalswinton. 
In a letter to Lady Winifred, dated at Ellisland, the 16th December 1789, 
the Poet remarks that her ladyship's progenitors and his own had been 
" common sufferers in a cause where even to be unfortunate is glorious, the 
cause of heroic loyalty." And with his letter he enclosed a copy of the 
verses which he had inscribed two years previously to William Tytler of 
Woodhouselee, beginning, " lievered defender of the beauteous Stuart." 
Lady Winifred was grand - daughter and representative of that Earl of 
Kithsdale who, in I7l6, was, through the fortitude and ingenuity of his 
wife, rescued from the Tower, while under sentence of death. Her ladyship 
had returned to Scotland after a lengthened absence, and was rebuilding 
Terregles House, the seat of her ancestors. She had married William 
Haggerston Constable of Everiugham. At Terregles House the Poet became 
an occasional visitor. In April 1791 he transmitted to Lady Winifred his 
" Lament of Mary Queen of Scots," and in the same year composed for her 
special gratification his song entitled, " Ye Jacobites by Name." A song in 
two stanzas entitled, " Nithsdale's Welcome Hame," he, about the same time, 
composed in her ladyship's honour. 


William Cunninghame of Annbank and Enterkin. — This gentleman 13 
the subject of the stanzas by the Poet celebrating the " Fete Chanipetre " or 
open-air festival, which he gave, in 1788, on attaining his majority and 
entering into possession of his grandfather's estates. Mr. Cunninghame 
married, 18th June 17U4, Catherine, daughter of Major Alexander Stewart 
of Afton, and of the union was horn an only son, William Allason 
Cunninghame of Logan and Afton (Library edition of Burns's Works, ii. 
p. 164). 

Miss Deborah D. Davies. — In lionour of this lady Burns composed 
two songs, one beginning, " Bonnie wee thing, cannie wee thing," the other 
entitled, " The charms of lovely Davies," also an epigram beginning, " Ask 
why God made the gem so small." Miss Davies was a relative of the 
Iiiddel family, and the Poet formed her acquaintance when he was resident 
at Ellisland. According to Allan Cunningham, who received his information 
from her nephew. Miss Davies was of short stature, but of exquisite form 
and beauty, and possessed more than an ordinary share of mental endow- 
ments. A Captain Delany, by composing verses in her praise, and other 
attentions, secured her affection, but, after making to her a promise of marriage, 
suddenly deserted her. To her cruel wrong Miss Davies succumbed, and 
after her death some striking and pathetic verses she had composed, were 
found wrapped round the miniature of her ungrateful lover. Two letters 
addressed by the Poet to Miss Davies, undated, but supposed to have been 
written in August 1791, are included in the Bard's correspondence; and in 
the Library edition of his works (vol. vi. p. 64) is presented a letter 
addressed by Miss Davies to the Poet, on the 14th March 1793, in which 
she begs that he will supply her with a copy of his song, " The charms of 
lovely Davies," in his own handwriting. 

George Dempster. — By the Poet in his " Epistle to James Smith " Mr. 
Dempster is thus celebrated, " A title Dempster merits it." Mr. Dempster 
was born in 1735, and in 1762 was elected member of Parliament for the 
Fife and Forfar district of burghs. From the independence with which 
he asserted his opinions, he was popularly known as " Honest George." 
Ptetiring from Parliament in 1790, he thereafter devoted his energies 
towards the promotion of manufactures and the advancement of agriculture. 
Mr. Dempster died at his residence at Dunnichen, Forfarshire, on the 13th 
February 1818. 

vol. II. 2 u 


John Dove, called facetiously by the Poet " Johnie Pigeon," was 
landlord of the Whitefoord Arms Inn in the Cowgate of Mauchline. It is 
supposed by Mr. Scott Douglas (Library edition of Burns's Works, i. p. 163) 
that he was the " Paisley John " of another of the Poet's compositions, 
implying that he hailed from that town. In 1785 the Poet was a member 
of a Bachelors' Club which met at the Whitefoord Arms. 

The Eev. Di?. Eobert Duncan, minister of Dundonald, is, in " The 
Twa Herds," described by the Poet as " Duncan deep." He was ordained 
minister of Dundonald in 1783, and died on the 14th April 1815, in tlie 
thirty- second year of liis ministry. He was author of a sermon on 

Archibald, eleventh Earl of Eglixton. — By this nobleman the sum 
of ten pounds was sent to the Poet shortly after his arrival in Edinburgh. 
The Poet acknowledged the gift in a letter which he addressed to his 
lordship on the 11th January 1787. In this letter he writes: — 

Your munificence, my lord, certainlj' deserves my very grateful ackuowlodg- 
ments ; but your patron*.tge is a bounty peculiarly suited to my feelings. I am 
not master enough of the etiquette of life to know whether there be not some 
impropriety in troubling your lordship with my thanks, but my heart wliispered 
me to do it. From the emotions of my inmost soul I do it. Selfish ingratitude 
I hope I am incapable of ; and mercenary servility, I trust I shall ever have as 
much honest pride as to detest. 

Before succeeding to the title, in 1769, the Earl was known as 
General Montgomerie. He raised the 77th Regiment of Foot, of which 
he was, in January 1757, appointed lieutenant- colonel commandant. 
He was elected M.P. for Ayrshire. In 1776 his lordship was chosen one 
of the sixteen Scottish representative Peers, and in 1782 he was appointed 
governor of Edinburgh Castle. He died on the 30th October 1796. 

The Hon. Henry Erskine. — At a meeting of the Canongate Kilwinning 
Lodge of Freemasons, held on the 7th December 1786, Burns was, by Mr. 
Dalrymple of Orangefield, introduced to Henry Erskine as the Past-Master. 
From this time Mr. Erskine took a deep interest in his concerns, and 
afterwards became his correspondent. In his " Extempore in the Court 


of Session " he liumorously refers to Mr. Erskine's pleading in these 
lines : — 

Collected Harry stood awee, 

Then open'd out his arm, man ; 
His lordship sat wi' ruefu' e'e, 

And ey'd the gathering storm, man : 
Like wind-driv'n hail it did assail, 

Or torrents ovvre a Hn, man ; 
The Bench sae wise lift up their eyes, 

Half-waukened wi' the din, man. 

In a letter dated Ellisland, 22nd January 1789, the Poet enclosed to 
Mr. Erskine several of his recent compositions, with an expression of his 
gratitude for the kindness he had received from him. Second son of Henry 
David, tenth Earl of Buchan, Mr. Erskine was born on the 1st November 
1746. Admitted advocate in 1768, he was elected Dean of Faculty in 
1786. He held office as Lord Advocate in 1783, and again in 1806-7. 
He died on the 8th October 1817. A noted humorist, Mr. Erskine was 
also distinguished as a powerful pleader, a skilful lawyer, and a generous 

Jane Ferrier. — This gentlewoman, to whom the Poet enclosed his 
" Elegy on Sir James Hunter Blair," with the verses commencing, " Nae 
heathen name shall I prefix," was eldest daughter of James Ferrier, Writer 
to the Signet, and sister of Miss Susan Edmonstone Ferrier, the accom- 
plished novelist. Miss Ferrier was born in 1767, and was, when the Poet 
formed her acquaintance in 1787, celebrated as a beauty. She married, in 
1804, General Samuel Graham, subsequently deputy-governor of Stirling 
Castle ; and, being an accomplished artist, she, along with the ingenious 
Mr. Edward Blore, made drawings of the oak carvings in Stirling Palace, 
which, being engraved, were published in 1817 in a volume entitled Lacunar 
Strivilinense. Mrs. Graham died at Edinburgh in 1846 ; her remains rest in 
St. Cuthbert's Churchyard. 

Agnes Fleming. — Daughter of John Fleming, farmer at Doura, in the 
parish of Tarbolton, Agnes Fleming was baptized on the 19th March 
1765 (parish register); she is the heroine of the Poet's song entitled, " My 
Nannie, 0," and beginning, " Behind yon hills where Lugar flows." The 
song was composed in 1783. 

Christian Flint. — Mrs. Flint, better known by her maiden name of 


Kirstie Kirkpatrick, was wife of a mason in the parish of Closebuni. 
According to Dr. Eobert Cliarabers, the Poet, when lie lived at Kllisland, 
was in the habit of paying Kii-stie a visit, that he might hear her sing his 
recent songs. When, in course of her singing, he found any word harsh or 
grating to his ear, he substituted one more nielodious and pleasing. Mrs. 
Flint died in 1836, at the age of seventy-one. 

Miss Fontenelle. — This lady was one of Mr. Sutherland's con;pany in 
Dumfries theatre. She is described as a " pretty little creature," and by 
her skilful performances she attracted the admiration of the Poet, who 
provided three compositions for her use. Of these, the first, entitled " The 
Rights of Woman," Miss Fontenelle expressed on her benefit night, 2Gth 
November 1792 ; the second is an epigram, beginning, "Sweet naivet<i of 
feature ; " the third, an address, which Miss Fontenelle spoke at her benefit 
on the 4t]i December 179.S. In tmnsmitting to ^^is.s Fontenelle the first 
of compositions, the Poet writes : — 

To you, madam, ou our humble Dumfries boards, I have been more indebted 
for ontertainmeut than ever I was in prouder theatres. Your charms as a 
woman woukl insure applause to the most indifferent actress, and your tlieatrical 
talents would insure ailmiration to the plainest figure. This, madam, is not the 
unmeaning or insidious compliment of the frivolous or interested ; I pay it from 
the same honest impulse that the sublime of Nature excites my admiration or 
her beauties give me delight. 

IIev. Alexander Geddes, LLD. — Son of a crofter in the parish of 
Eathven, Banffshire, Alexander Geddes *tas born in 1737, and educated for 
the ministry of the Eomish Church. In 1764 he olficiated as Iloraan 
Catholic priest at Dundee, and after some time acting as tutor in the family 
of the Earl of Traquair, he resumed the clerical duties at Auchinalrig in 
Banffshire. Associating on familiar terms with the Protestant clergy, he 
was, in 1779, suspended by his diocesan ; at the same time he received the 
degree of LL.D. from the University of Aberdeen. In 1780 he proceeded 
to London, where, obtaining the favour of Lord Petre, he received a pension 
from that nobleman, and was enabled to engage in various literary concerns. 
During a visit to Edinburgh, in the winter of 1786-87, he met Burns in the 
house of Lord Monboddo, and at once became interested on his behalf. He 
procured as subscribers for the Poet's Edinburgh edition the names of five 
foreign Eomish seminaries. Mrs. M'Lehose, who met Dr. Geddes at Edin- 
burgh, was much struck by his powerful conversation, and the Poet, in his 


letter to Mrs, Diinlop, of the 4tli November 1787, warmly commends him. 
In a letter to Dr. Geddes, written from EUisland, 3rd February 1789, he 
reports the event of his marriage, and that he had become a farmer and 
officer of Excise ; he also entreats a continuation of his correspondent's 
friendship. Dr. Geddes published in 1792-97, in two large quarto volumes, 
a translation of the Bible, accompanied with comments, in which he denied 
the plenary inspiration. His work was accordingly prohibited by the 
Vicars Apostolic of his own Church, while by members of other denomina- 
tions he was severely criticized. Among many other works, chiefly 
controversial, he published " Linton," a pastoral poem ; and from his peri 
proceeded the popular songs, " There was a wee bit wifikie," and " send 
Lewie Gordon hame." He died at London on the 26th February 1802. 
Though of eccentric modes and unsound opinions, Dr. Geddes was much 
esteemed as an accomplished scholar. 

John Goldie, celebrated by the Poet in his epistle beginning, " O 
Gowdie, terror of the Whigs," was a person of considerable ingenuity and 
merit. Son of the miller at Cruigmill, on the Water of Cessnock, in the 
parish of Galston, he was there born in 1717. Not being sent to school, he 
was at home educated by his mother, while he personally acquired the art 
of figuring. Possessing a remarkable mechanical skill, he in his fourteenth 
year prepared a miniature mill, capable of use. He afterwards studied 
architecture, and entered upon business at Kilmarnock as a cabinetmaker. 
At this period he fashioned a beautiful clock-case, which was .icquired by 
the Duke of Hamilton and deposited in Hamilton Palace. Mr. Goldie next 
entered into business at Kilmarnock as a wine merchant, occupying his 
leisure in mathematical and astronomical studies. Ultimately he became 
notable in connexion with his religious opinions. In 1780 he published, in 
three octavo volumes, a work entitled, Ensays on various important Subjects, 
Moral and Divine, heiny an attempt to distinguish True from False Religion. 
In this work he set forth the existence of God, but repudiated almost every 
other doctrine of orthodox belief. Consequent on his publication, which 
became popularly known as " Goudie's Bible," he fell into nmch disrepute. 
Chancing to be in the neighbourhood of Mauchline, he waited on the Poet 
at Mossgiel, and, inviting him to visit him at Kilmarnock, encouraged him 
to venture on a publication. He does not further appear in connexion with 
the Poet's history. In 1808 he published a work entitled, Conchisive 
Evidence against Atheism, intimating at the end of the volume his intention 


to produce a work in three volumes to be en'itled, A Revise, or a Reform of 
the Present History of Astronomy, but this publication was not forthcoming. 
He died in 1811. Latterly Mr. Goldie engaged in mining speculations, 
and thereby impaired his resource?. 

CAriAiN John Hamiltox. — This gentleman was owner of the house 
occupied by the Poet during the first eighteen months of his residence in 
Dumfries. In a letter to Captain Hamilton, without dale, but ascribed to 
July 1794 (printed by Dr. Hately Waddell in 1879), the Poet remarks 
that he is " the only person in Dumfries, or in the world, to whom he is in 
debt," and makes promise of settling with him soon. He ascribed his 
indebtedness to the fact of his having " lent his name to a friend who had 
become unfortunate," and to his " having to pay out of his very limited 
income, a sum he could ill afford." To the Captain he made payment of an 
instalment of three guineas in January 1795, when lie received an acknow- 
ledgment, in which the writer uses these words : — 

When you first came here I courted your acquaintance ; I wished to see 
you ; I asked you to call in and take a family dinner now and then, when it 
suited your convenience. For more than twelve months you have never entered 
my door, but seemed rather shy when we met This kept me from sending you 
any further particular invitation. If I liave in any shape oifended, or from 
inadvertency hurt the delicacy of your feelings, tell me so, and I will endeavour 
to set it to rights. If you are disposed to renew our acquaintance, I will be 
glad to see you to a family dinner, at three o'clock on Sunday, and at any rate 
hope you will believe me, dear sir, your sincere friend. 

To this polite communication Burns replied on Saturday, 14th February, 
explaining that he had been from home, and assuring his friend that his 
" backwardness " had arisen, " not from his taking offence," but " from the 
abashing consciousness of his obscure station in the ranks of life." He 
then promised that on the first leisure evening he would avail himself of his 
friend's offer of hospitality. 

Patrick Heron of Heron and KEiiROUGHXREE. — By the death of 
General Stewart, the Parliamentary representation of the Stewartry of 
Kirkcudbright became vacant in January 1795, and during the two 
following months a contest for the election caused much local excitement. 
The Tory candidate, Mr. Thomas Gordon of Balmaghie, was brought forward 
under the influence of his uncle, Mr. Murray of Broughton, and was also 
assisted by the Earl of Galloway. On the Whig side appeared Mr. Heron, 


and the Poet warmly supported his candidature by composing two ballads 
on his behalf, and circulating printed copies of them among the constituency. 
INIr. Heron was elected, but in the following year the Parliament was 
dissolved, which brought on a new contest. Though in very feeble health, 
Burns produced a ballad, bitterly assailing Mr. Heron's opponents, but lie 
did not survive to learn the result of the election, which issued in Mr. Heron's 
favour. In 1802 Mr. Heron was again returned member for the Stewartry, 
hut on the 10th May 1803 his name was erased by order of the House. 
Mr. Heron married, at La Mancha, 18th December 1775, Lady Eh'zabeth 
Cochrane, daughter of Thomas, eighth Earl of Dundonald. He died at 
Grantham on the 9th June 1803. 

James Humphry. — According to the parish register of Tarbolton, 
William Humphry had a son baptized on the 27th November 1755, called 
James. The child so baptized is supposed to be the subject of the Poet's 
epitaph beginning, " Below thir stanes lie Jamie's banes." By trade a stone- 
mason, James Humphry was employed both at Lochlea and Mossgiel, and 
his knowledge of books and facility of utterance early recommended him to 
the Poet's attention. But Humphry began to engage in polemical 
discussions, with an affectation of learning beyond what he actually 
possessed; hence the Poet's description of him as "a bletherin' bitch.'* 
After industriously exercising his calling for many years, he in his advanced 
age found a home at Failford, in one of the almshouses there constructed 
for the aged destitute. He died in 1844, at the age of eighty-nine. 
Humphry rejoiced in being the subject of the Poet's Muse. 

Jean Jaffray. — The heroine of Burns's exquisite song beginning, " I 
gaed a waefu' gate yestreen," Jean Jaifray was the only daughter of the Rev. 
Andrew Jaffray, successively minister of the parishes of Ruthwell and Loch- 
maben. She was born in the manse of Ruthwell, on the 29th May 1773.^ 

In 1794 she married Renwick, merchant, Liverpool, who afterwards 

settled in New York. There Mrs. Ren wick's society was much cherished by 
Washington Irving and other literary persons. She died in October 1850. 
Subsequent to her death a collected volume of her writings was issued, 
accompanied by a memoir. Her son, James Renwick, LL.D., became 
Professor of Natural Philosophy and Chemistry in Columbia College, 
and was the author of many scientific publications. When in 1789 

1 Ruthwell Parish Register. 


Burns composed liis song in liononr of Miss Jaffray, she was in her 
sixteenth year. 

Jean Kennedy, — The "Kirkton Jean" of "Tani o' Shauter," Jean Kennedy 
kept a small inn at the Kirk-town of Kirkoswald. Jean was one of the two 
daughters of Alexander Kennedy in Crossraguel, where she was born in 
August 1738. In the management of the hostelry she was assisted by her 
younger sister, Anne. The sisters occupied a fair social status ; they enjoyed 
an unblemished fame, and were usually described as " the Leddies." Their 
inn was usually known as " the Leddies' House;" but the Poet, to suit the 
exigencies of verse, has described it as " the, lord's Hovse." 

Helen Kikkpatkick. — Daughter of a blacksmith in the vicinity of Mount 
Oliphant, Helen Kirkpatrick attracted the Poet's fancy in the harvest- 
field in the autumn of 1773, and became the subject of his song entitled 
" Handsome Nell," and commencing, " Oh, once I lov'd a bonnie lass." 
Bums afterwards contributed the song to the Scots Miisical Museum. 

David M'Culloch of Audwell. — This gentleman, whose estate lay near 
Gatehouse in Kirkcudbrightshire, was a warm friend of the Poet. In con- 
nexion with the Poet, an affecting anecdote was related by him to Mr. J. G. 
Lockhart. Riding into Dumfries to attend a county ball in the summer of 
1794 (apparently on the King's birthday, being the 4th June), he saw Burns 
walking alone on the shady side of the High Street, while fashionable groups 
of ladies and gentlemen were on the opposite side, passing along to share the 
festivities of the night, but not one of whom seemed disposed to recognise 
him. Noticing the circumstance, Mr. M'Culloch dismounted from his 
horse, and, addressing the Poet, proposed that he should cross the street. 
" Nay, nay, my young friend, that's all over now," replied the Bard, while, 
after a slight pause, he quoted these two verses of Lady Grizel Baillie's 
touching ballad : — 

His bonnet stood auce fu' fair on his brow, 
His auld ane looked better than mony ane's new ; 
But now he lets wear ony gate it will hing, 
And casts himsel' dowie upon the com-bing. 

Oh, were we young as we ance hae been, 
! We sud hae been galloping down on yon green, 

And linking it owre the lily-white lea ; 
And werena my heart light I wad dee I 


On the 21st of June, or about two weeks after this occurrence, the Poet, 
in a short letter, intimated to Mr. M'Culloch that he was about to visit his 
neighbourliood, and desired the favour of his accompanying him and Mr. 
Syme to Mr. Heron's residence at Kerroughtree. 

Eev. William M'Gill, D.D. — This reverend gentleman was educated at 
the University of Glasgow, and, being licensed to preach by the Presbytery 
of Wigtown in 1759, was in the following year appointed assistant to the 
minister of Kilwinning. In October 1761 he was ordained minister of the 
second charge of Ayr. In 1786 he published a work entitled A Practical 
Essay on the Death of Jesus Christ, in two parts ; containing first the History, 
and then the Doctrine of His Death. Dr. M'Gill's essay was supposed to 
inculcate Arian and Socinian doctrines, and consequently called forth severe 
censures. But the writer remained silent till his neighbour, Dr. William 
Peebles of Newton-upon-Ayr, in a sermon preached on the 5th November 
1788, denounced the composition as heretical, and charged the author as 
with one hand receiving the privileges of the Church, while with the other 
he was endeavouring to plunge a dagger into her heart. Dr. M'Gill 
published a defence, and in May 1789 an inquiry into the case by the local 
Presbytery was ordered by the General Assembly. The subject excited 
much general interest, and led the Poet, in the interest of the accused, to 
compose his satire of " The Kirk's Alarm." After various proceedings. 
Dr. M'Gill, on the 14th April 1790, offered to the Provincial Synod certain 
explanations, which were unanimously accepted by the court. Dr. M'Gill 
died on the 30th March 1807, in his seventy-sixth year. Of mild and 
agreeable manners and an equable temper, he was much beloved by his 
fiiends ; he also excelled as a humorist. 

Henry Mackenzie. — A distinguished novelist and miscellaneous writer, 
Henry Mackenzie was the son of a physician at Edinburgh, and was there 
born in August 1745. Devoting himself to legal pursuits, he became 
partner and afterwards successor of Mr. Inglis, attorney for the Crown. 
In 1771 he published anonymously The Man of Feeling, which at once 
became popular. With his name he issued in 1773 The Man of the World, 
which he followed in 1777 by his tragic tale o^ Julia de Rouhign^. In 
January 1779 he became editor oi The Mirror ; and of the one hundred and 
ten papers to which this serial extended, he personally contributed forty- 
two. The Lounger, another serial under his editorship, was connnenced in 
VOL. II. 2 X 


1785 ; and of the hundred and one papers which it includes, he composed 
fifty-seven. In The Lounger, on the 9th December 1786, appeared from 
his pen a commendatory article on lUirns's Kilmarnock volume, which most 
materially tended to the Poet's recognition by the savants of the capital. 
Towards the Poet he extended much personal attention, especially in makinj; 
him known to his literary and other friends. When the Poet proceeded on 
his Highland tour in company with Mr. Nicol in 1787, he received from 
Mr. Mackenzie a letter of introduction to his brother-in-law, Sir James 
Grant, Bart., of Castle Grant. This letter has lately been printed by Sir 
William Fraser in his Chiefs of Grant. It proceeds thus : — 

Edinburgh, 24M August 1787. 

My Dear Sir James, — This will be delivered by the Lard of Airshire, 
Mr. Burns, of whom you have heard a good deal, and with whom Louis ^ was 
acquainted here. He is also charged with a box directed for Miss Grant, I 
presume Miss Eliza, which came some time ago in the English stage coach, and 
was omitted to be sent by M'Laren. It consists of such light materials as Poets 
sometimes present ladies with. Mr. Burns is accompanied in his Northern 
Tour by Mr. Nicol, with whom I have not the honor of being acquainted ; but 
Louis, I presume, has a very feeling remembrance of him. You will find Burns 
not less uncommon in conversation than in his poetry, clever, intelligent, an<l 
observant, with remarkable acuteness and indejwndence of miml, — the last 
indeed to a degree that sometimes prejudices people against him, tho' he has, 
on the whole, met with amazing patronage and encouragement. I^uis will 
show him the lions of Castle Grant ; and as he is an enthusiast about the 
" fortia facta patrum," let him not forget, as in the case of Lord Monboddo, to 
show him the large Gun. 

Penie "^ still holds out, and is very well settled in Brown Square, whither we 
removed immediately after dinner on the day you set out. We hope you have 
by this time finislied your journey successfully and found all well at home. 
Our love to all. — Yours most affectionately, Henry Mackenzie. 

By favour of Mr. Bums. 

In his letter addressed to his bi-other Gilbert, from Edinburgh, 17th 
September 1787, the Poet refers to his visit to Sir James Grant at Castle 
Grant ; he also notices the event in his Journal. 

In 1804 Henry Mackenzie was appointed Comptroller of Taxes for 
Scotland. He died on the 14th January 1831, at the advanced age of 

' Mr. Mackenzie's son, a youth of great He married her on 6th January 1776. She 
promise, died in 1801. was daughter of Sir Ludovick Grant of Grant, 

2 Tenuel Grant, Henry Mackenzie's wife. and sister of Sir James. 


Eev. James Mackinlay, D.D. — On the admission of Mr. Mackinlay to 
the second charge of Kihnarnock, Burns composed his poem entitled " The 
Ordination." Mr. Mackinlay cherished Old Light views, and to gratify 
those of the opposite school the Poet wrote. Mr. Mackinlay was born at 
Douglas in 1756, and, becoming a licentiate of tlie Churcli in 1782, was 
presented by the Earl of Glencairn to the second charge of Kilmarnock, his 
ordination taking place on the 6th April 1786. In 1809 he was trans- 
lated to the first charge. He died on the 10th February 1841, in the 
fifty-fifth year of his ministry. Dr. Mackinlay was author of several 
discourses, printed singly. His son James was minister of Well park 
Church, Glasgow, and died in 1876. 

Isabella M'Leod of Eaasay. — To this gentlewoman the Poet addressed 
his verses beginning, " Sad thy tale, thou idle page," composed on the death 
of her brother John, who died in July 1787. With the M'Leod family he 
became acquainted on the introduction of Mr. Gavin Hamilton. Flora, an 
elder sister of Isabella, married, in 1779, Colonel James Mure-Campbell of 
Eowallan, who, in 1782, succeeded to the Earldom of Loudoun. She died 
on the 3rd September 1780, soon after giving birth to an only child, 
Flora, who, on the death of her father in 1786, became Countess of 
Loudoun in her sixth year. Subsequently the Poet, in allusion to Miss 
M'Leod's grief at the loss of relatives, composed his song beginning, 
" Eaving winds around her blowing." 

Eev. William M'Quhae, D.D. — This reverend gentleman is referred 
to humorously in " The Twa Herds." Born at Wigtown in 1737, and 
educated at the University of Glasgow, he was ordained minister at St. 
Quivox in 1764. In 1806 he was proposed as Moderator of the General 
Assembly, but declined the office. He died on the 1st March 1823, in the 
sixtieth year of his ministry. Much celebrated as a sound expositor of 
Divine truth, Dr. M'Quhae was also distinguished for his business aptitude 
and intelligent conversation. In 1785 he published a discourse entitled The 
Difficulties which attend the Practice of Religion, no Just Argument against it. 

Eev. Alexander Miller. — In " The Holy Fair " this gentleman is 
keenly satirized. A probationer when, in 1786, Burns reflected upon him, 
he was, in 1788, presented to the parish of Kilmaurs, but his settlement 
was keenly opposed by the parishioners. He died on the 22ud December 


1804. According to Burns, he professed evangelical doctrine, but was at 

heart of the opposite school. 

John Mitchell, Dumfries. — Mr. Mitchell, Collector of E.>ccise at 
Dumfries, was an attached friend of the Poet. He had obtained a college 
education, with a view to the ministry, and Burns frequently consulted him 
on poetical concerns. Two short letters addressed by hira to Mr. Mitchell 
liave latterly been included in his prose works (Library edition of Burns's 
Works, V. 328, 384). During his illness, at the close of 1795, he con- 
veyed to Mr. Mitchell his request for a small loan in his verses beginning, 
" Friend of the Poet, tried and leal." 

Eev. Alexander Moodie. — By the Poet Mr. Moodie is celebrated in 
"The Holy Fair" and "The Twa Herds." Translated from the second 
charge of Culross, he was admitted to the pastoral charge of Riccarton in 
1762. An earnest preacher of the evangelical or Old Light school, he was 
somewhat severe in his personal aspects — a peculiarity to which the Poet 
facetiously refers. He died at Riccarton on the 14th February 1799, in 
his seventy-second year. In his parochial charge he was succeeded by his 
eldest son, 

EUPHEMIA MuRR.w OF LiNTROSE. — In honour of this lady, when she was 
about her eighteenth year. Burns, in 1787, composed his song with the 
chorus " Blythe, bl} the, and merry was she." A cousin of Sir William 
Murray of Ochtertyre, Miss Murray became the wife of David Smythe of 
Methven, advocate, latterly a Judge in the Court of Session, with the title 
of Lord Methven. Mrs. Smythe was in youth celebrated as a beauty ; she 
was known as the " Flower of Strathmore." 

Rev. John Mutrie. — Predecessor of the Rev. James Mackinlay, Mr. 
Mutrie held office as minister of the second charge of Kilmarnock from 
1775 till his death, on the 2nd June 1785. Of the Xew Light school, he 
is mentioned by Burns iu " The Ordination." 

Rev. James Oliphant. — This reverend gentleman was promoted from 
the Gorbals Chapel of Ease to the High Church of Kilmarnock in 1764, 
and there ministered till 1773, when he was translated to the parish of 
Dunbarton. He died on the 10th April 1818, at the age of eighty-four. 


He had a powerful voice, and so is described by the Poet in connexion with 
his church at Kihnarnock as having " made her yell." Mr. Oliphant com- 
posed A Mother's Catechism, also A Sacramental Catechism, both of which 
obtained wide acceptance. 

Mrs. Lucy Oswald. — This lady, a daughter of Wynne Jolinston, Esq., 
of Hilton, was married, about the year 1793, to Eichard A. Oswald, Esq., 
of Aiichincruive, who then resided in Dumfries. Mrs. Oswald was a cele- 
brated beauty, and the Poet transferred to her, as a tributary offering, his 
song beginning " wat ye wha's in yon town," originally composed in 
honour of Jean Lorimer. Mrs. Oswald died of a pulmonary affection in 
January 1798, about the age of thirty (Library edition of Burns's Works, 
iii. 253). 

Key. William Peebles, D.D. — Minister of Newton-on-Ayr, Dr. Peebles 
is satirized by the Poet in " The Holy Fair " and " The Kirk's Alarm." He 
ministered at Newton-on-Ayr from 1778 till his death, which took place 
on the 11th October 1826. In 1803 he published a poem entitled "The 
Crisis ; or, The Progress of Revolutionary Principles," and in 1810 a 
volume consisting chiefly of odes and elegies. He also issued a volume 
of sermons, and several single discourses. 

Rev. John Robertson. — Minister of the first charge at Kilmarnock, Mr. 
Robertson ministered in that town from 1765 till his death, which took 
place on the 5th June 1799. Mr. Robertson, who cherished New Light 
opinions, is the subject of a stanza in " The Ordination." 

Jean and Anne Ronald. — Daughters of William Ronald, farmer at 
Bennals, in the parish of Tarbolton, Jean Ronald was baptized on the 2nd 
October 1759, and Anne on the 26th June 1767 (Tarbolton Parish 
Register). The sisters are the subject of the Poet's song beginning, " In 
Tarbolton, ye ken, there are proper young men." Gilbert Burns wooed 
Jean, the elder sister, but, rejecting his addresses, she accepted the hand of 
John Reid, farmer at Langlands. The Poet, in his twenty-second year, was 
attracted by the younger sister, and celebrated her charms. Their father, 
William Ronald, experienced reverses. 

Mrs. Elizabeth Scott, n4e Rutherford, was niece of Mrs. Cockbum, 


authoress of the popular song beginning " I've seen the smiling of Fortune 

beguiling," and wife of Scott, Wauchope House, Koxburghshire. In 

February 1787 Mrs. Scott sent the Poet a long poetical epistle, in which 
she made offer to send him " a marled plaid " in guerdon of her strong 
approval of his verses. Her address was acknowledged by the Poet in an 
epistle beginning, " I mind it weel in early date." In course of his Border 
tour Burns paid a visit to Mr. and Mrs. Scott at Wauchope, and in 
reference to the occasion made in his Journal the following entry : — 

Mr. Scott exactly the figure and face commonly given to Sancho Panza — 
very shrewd in his farming matters, and not imfreijuently stumbles on wliat 
may be called a strong thing, rather than a f,'ood thing. Mrs. Scott all the 
souse, taste, intrepidity of face, and bold, critical decision, which usually dis- 
tinguish female authors. 

In the same itinerary, the Poet subsequently alludes to Mrs. Scott's " con- 
summate assurance of her own abilities," while, in the Journal of liis 
Highland tour, he, under the 25th August 1787, alludes to "her strong 
sense and just remark." Mrs. Scott died on the 19th February 1789. In 
1801 her collected poems were published by her relatives. 

Eev. Andrkw Shaw, D.D. — This reverend gentleman is alluded to by 
the Poet in " The Twa Herds." Son of Mr. Andrew Shaw, Professor of 
Divinity at St. Andrews, he was ordained minister of Craigie in 1765, and 
there ministered till his death, in September 1805. He was held in high 
esteem both as a preacher and an accomplished scholar. 

Eev. David Shaw, D.D. — Named by the Poet in " The Twa Herds," 
Dr. David Shaw was minister of Coylton from 1749 till his death, which 
took place on the 26 th April 1810. He died in his ninety-second year 
and the sixty-first of his ministry. 

William Sloan. — The " Haverel Will" of Burns's poem of " Halloween," 
William Sloan was son of Eobert Sloan in Douglaston, parish of Kirk- 
oswald; he was there born in December 1758. On the recommendation 
of his uncle, Samuel Brown, the Poet employed him as his gaudsman 
or plough-guide when he entered on the lease of Mossgiel. After being 
some time in the Poet's service, Sloan returned to Kirkoswald, and was 
there apprenticed to the shoemaking trade, under John Davidson — that is, 


" Souter Johnnie." He finally settled in the village of Dahnellington. Sloan 
was a person of simple manners, but by no means deficient in shrewdness 
and sagacity. 

Rev. George Smith, D.D. — Noticed by the Poet in " The Twa Herds," 
also in " The Holy Fair " and " The Kirk's Alarm," Dr. George Smith 
ministered in the parish of Galston from 1778 till his death, which took 
place on the 28th April 1823. Dr. Smith rigidly adhered to the New 
Light party. 

Professor Dugald Si-ewart. — Son of Dr. Matthew Stewart, Professor 
of Mathematics in the University of Edinburgh, this eminent metaphysician 
was born on the 22nd November 1753. In his nineteenth year he became 
assistant to his father in his professorial duties, and on his death in 1775 
was elected as his successor. In 1785 he exchanged the Mathematical 
Chair for that of Moral Philosophy in the same University. Through Dr. 
Mackenzie, surgeon at Mauchline, Professor Stewart, in August 1786, 
received a copy of Burns's Kilmarnock volume, and he was much struck 
with the Poet's genius. On the 23rd of October thereafter, the Poet, 
accompanied by Dr. Mackenzie, dined with him in his villa of Catrine, 
near Mauchline, when Lord Daer was one of the party. At Edinburgh, in 
course of the following winter, he received from the Professor much 
attention and hospitality. Two letters of the Poet to Professor Stewart, 
dated 3rd May 1788 and 20th January 1789, contain strong expressions 
of appreciation and gratitude. Professor Stewart died at Edinburgh on the 
11th June 1828. To his memory a monument has been erected on the 
Calton Hill. 

Mrs. Katiierine Stewart of Stair. — This gentlewoman, nh Katherine 
Gordon of Afton, married, on the 1st February 1770, Alexander Stewart of 
Stair. Stair House, with its beautiful enclosures, is situated on the banks 
of the river Ayr, about three miles below Barskimming. According to 
Dr. Eobert Chambers, when Burns in 1785 accompanied his friend, 
David Sillar, to Stair House on a visit to the servant lasses (to one of whom, 
Margaret Orr, Sillar was attached), he handed to them copies of some of 
his songs. One of these falling in the way of Mrs. Stewart, she requested 
that when he next visited the house he should be shown into the drawing- 
room. This narrative is of doubtful authenticity ; but about September 


1786 the Poet is found addressing a letter to ^Irs. Stewart, in wliich he 
enclosed to her several of his imprinted songs, including his recent lyric in 
commemoration of Miss "Wilhelmina Alexander. The Poet's letter con- 
cludes in these words : — 

One feature of your diameter I shall ever with grateful pleasure remember 
— the reception I got when I had the honor of waiting on you at Stair, I am 
little acquainted with politeness, but 1 know a good deal of benevolence of 
temper and goodness of heart. Surely did those in exalted stations know how 
hapj)y they could make some classes of their inferiors by condescension and 
affability, they would never stand so high, measuring out with every look the 
height of their elevation, but condescend as sweetly as did Mrs. Stewart of Stair. 

By the Poet Mrs. Stewart is respectfully referred to in " The Brigs of Ayr," 
and, according to Dr. Currie, he composed in her honour the song, " Flow 
gently, sweet Afton." Mrs. Stewart's husband, afterwards Major-General 
Stewart, was colonel of the 2nd Regiment of Foot, and was M.P. for Kirk- 
cudbrightshire from 1786 to 1790. He died on the I7th December 1794. 
The family sold the estate of Stair, and thereafter Mrs. Stewart erected a 
new mansion on a portion of the Enterkin estate, which she named Afton 
Lodge. She there died in January 1818, and her remains were deposited 
in the parish churchyard of Stair. Katherine, her eldest daughter, married, 
in 1794, William Cunningham of Enterkin. 

Mary Stewart. — In his song, " Oh, lovely Polly Stewart," contributed 
to Johnson's Museum in 1796, the Poet celebrates the daughter of his 
friend, William Stewart, factor at Closeburn. Miss Stewart was born in 
1775. She married her cousin, by whom she had three sons; she after- 
wards contracted an alliance with a person named Welsh. Latterly she 
associated with one Fleitz, a Swiss soldier. She died at Florence in 1847. 
(Library edition of Burns's Works, vol. iii. p. 16). 

William Stewart. — This gentleman was factor on the estate of Close- 
burn, then possessed by the Pev. James Stuart Menteith. The Poet 
frequently visited Mr. Stewart in his Excise rides. In his honour he 
composed the song, " You're welcome, Willie Stewart," which he inscribed 
on a crystal tumbler, now preserved at Abbotsford. 

Eev. James Steven, D.D. — The subject of Burns's poem, " The Calf," 
Dr. Steven was, when the Poet composed his satire, ministerial assistant at 
Ardrossau. In 1787 he was ordained minister of Crown Court Chapel, 


London, and when holding that office, became one of the founders of the 
London Missionary Society. In 1803 he was achuitted as minister of 
Kilwinning. He died on the 15th February 1824. He was eminently 
energetic, and was much esteemed as an earnest expounder of Divine truth. 

Geokge S. Sutherland. — For the use of this gentleman, who conducted 
the theatre at Dumfries, Burns composed two prologues, both spoken in 
1790, one beginning, " No song nor dance I bring from yon great city;" 
the other commencing, " What needs this din about the town o' Lon'on." 

Alexander Fraser Tytler. — Eldest son of William Tytler of Wood- 
houselee, Writer to the Signet, this gentleman was born on the 15th 
October 1747, and, having been trained to legal pursuits, was admitted 
advocate in January 1770. In 1780 he was appointed joint-Professor 
of Universal History. Consequent, as is believed, on the interest which 
his father had evinced in the Poet's welfare, he also became concerned on 
his behalf ; and wlien the poem of " Tarn o' Shanter " appeared in Grose's 
Antiquities, he, in a letter dated 12th March 1791, communicated with the 
Bard, expressing his high admiration, and offering certain suggestions. One 
of them the Poet adopted by excludii]g from the poem the following lines : — 

Three lawyers' tongues turn'd inside out, 
Wi' lies seam'd like a beggar's clout ; 
And priests' hearts, rotten, black as muck, 
Lay stinking, vile, in every neuk. 

Warmly appreciating Mr. Tytler as a critic, the Poet in 1793 submitted a 
number of his recent compositions to his revision. For several years Mr. 
Tytler held office as Depute Judge-Advocate, and in 1802 he became a 
judge in the Court of Session, with the title of Lord Woodhouselee. He 
published Decisions of the Court of Session, Elements of General History, 
Memoirs of Lord Karnes, and other works. He died on the 5 th January 

William Tytler of Woodiiocselee. — With Mr. William Tytler tlie 
Poet had become acquainted in course of his exertions for Jolinson's 
Museum, and on the 4th May 1787, the day before he left the city on his 
Border tour, he sent him, along with a copy of his silhouette portrait by 
JNEiers, his Jacobitical verses beginning, " Revered defender of the beauteous 
Stuart." In August of the same year he submitted to Mr. Tytler some 
VOL. II. 2 Y 


specimens of ballad poetry which he had gleaned in the western districts. 
]\Ir. Tytler was an enthusiast in his love of Scottish music and song, and was 
one of those wlio gave early encouragement to Mr. George Thomson in 
forming his collection. An intelligent antiquary, he contributed several 
papers to the Antiquarian Transactions, but his best-known work is his 
Inquiry, Historical and Critical, into the Evidence against Mary Queen of 
Scots. Mr. Tytler was born on the 12 th October 1711, and died on the 
12th December 1792. 

Helen Maria Williams. — Authoress of numerous works, both in prose 

and verse, chiefly in relation to political affairs in France, Miss Williams 
was born in London in 1762. An early admirer of the I'oet, she, on 
reading his " Mountain Daisy," composed a sonnet in his honour, which Dr. 
Moore enclosed to him in his letter of the 23rd January 1787. The sonnet 

closes in these lines : — 

Scotia ! from nule afflictions shield thy IJanl, 

His heav'n taught numljers Fame herself will guard. 

In 1788 Miss Williams published her poem on the slave trade. In 
acknowledging a presentation copy of the poem. Burns, in a lengthened 
communication, written from Ellisland in July 1789, offered some criticisms 
in reference to certain forms of expression, while commending the composi- 
tion generally in warm terms. In her reply Miss Williams informed the 
Poet that " a much less portion of applause from him would have been 
gratifying." Miss Williams died at Paris in December 1827, at the age of 
sixty-five. A warm approver of the French Revolution, she, in consequence 
of her advocacy of the Brissotins or Girondists, was imprisoned in the 
Temple of Paris, but was released on the fall of Kobespierre. In her later 
writings she condemned the Revolution, and upheld the cause of the 
Bourbons. For a list of Miss Williams's writings, see Allibone's Dictionary, 
vol. iii. p. 2739. 

John Wilson, Tarbolton. — The subject of the Poet's satirical poem, 
" Death and Dr. Hornbook," John Wilson was parish schoolmaster of Tar- 
bolton, and in 1785, when Burns composed his poem, had sought to add to 
his emoluments by opening a small shop, in which he sold grocery good? 
and drugs. According to Mr. J. G. Lockliart, Wilson was constrained, from 
the force of the satire, both to close his shop and abandon his school. 
Having removed to Glasgow, he there prospered as a teacher, and ultimately 


obtained the respectable appointment of session clerk of the parish of 
Gorbals. He died on the 13tli January 1839. Wilson rejoiced in having 
been the theme of one of Burns's most effective poems. 

Eev. Patrick Wodrow, D.D. — This reverend gentleman is facetiously 
referred to by the Poet in " The Twa Herds." Second son of the eminent 
ecclesiastical historian of the name, he was born in 1715, and ordained 
minister of Tarbolton in 1738; he died on the l7th April 1793, Dr. 
Wodrow was distinguished for his piety and learning. 

William Woods. — An eminent player, known as the " Scottish Eoscius." 
Mr. Woods was an intimate associate of the poet Fergusson, who in his 
" Last Will " has remembered him in these lines : — 

To Woods, whose genius can provoke 
The passions to the bowl or sock, 
For love to thee and to the Nine, 
Be my immortal Shakespeare thine. 

Warmly cherishing Woods' society, Burns composed the prologue beginning, 
" When by a generous public's kind acclaim," which was spoken by the 
player on Monday the 16th April 1787, when at Edinburgh he took the 
part of Ford in the "Merry Wives of Windsor." Woods was born in 1751, 
and died in 1802 ; his tombstone in the Old Calton burial-ground at 
Edinburgh was renewed in 1866. (Library edition of Burns's Works, 
vol. ii. pp. 58, 59.) 




PouTENTOUS sigli'd the hollow blast 
That sorrow-freighted southward past ; 
I heard the sound, and stood aghast 

In solemn dread ; 
The mournful truth is told at last, 

And Burns is dead. 

Ah, sweetest minstrel, Nature's child, 
Could not thy native woodnotes wild, 
Thy manly sense, thy manners mild, 

And sprightly glee. 
The dreaded tyrant have beguiled 

To set thee free ? 

Unfriended, desolate, and young, 
Misfortune o'er thy cradle hung ; 
And penury had check 'd thy song, 

But check'd in vain : 
Till death, with unrelenting wrong, 

Has closed the strain. 

Tims, midst the cold of winter's snows. 
The bright and naked snowdrop blows ; 
Its pure and native beauty glows, 

And charms the eyes, 
Till past some ruthless spoiler goes, 

And crops the prize. 

^ See supra, pp. 65, 68. An erudite and and songs. Born in 1774, he officiated as paiirsh 

accomplished clergyman, Dr. Duncan is chiefly minister of Ruthwell from 1799 to 1843, and 

known as the founder of Parish or Saving Banks, thereafter in the same parish in connexion with 

and as the first observer of extinct animals in the Free Church till his death in 1846. 
the new red sandstone. He composed poems 


]^ut not for thee, Bard, tlie lot 
In cold oblivion's shade to rot. 
Like those unlionour'd and forgot, 

The unfeeling great ; 
Who knew tliy worth, but hasten'd not 

To soothe thy fate. 

Whilst love to beauty pours the sigh, 
Whilst genius shall with nature vie, 
Whilst pity from the melting eye 

Shall claim regard, 
Thy honour'd name shall never die. 

Immortal Bard ! 

But oft as winter o'er the plain 
Shall pour at eve the beating rain. 
The hind shall call his little train 

Around the fire. 
To listen to some thrilling strain 

Of thy loved lyre. 

Whether to heaven's eternal King 
Thou strike the deep-resounding string, 
Whilst, rising on devotion's wing, 

Hope soars above 
To happier realms of endless spring 

And boundless love. 

Or whether lighter strains beguile 
The moments of relaxing toil, 
Bidding on labour's front the smile 

Of pleasure sit; 
The roof re-echoing all the while 

To native wit. 

Or if wild Fancy seize the rein, 

Whilst horror thrills through every vein, 

And sprites and elves, an awful train. 

Their orgies keep ; 
And warlocks o'er the frighted plain 

At midnight sweep. 


As works the spell, the fairy band 
Aghast in mute attention stand ; 
Again thou wav'st thy magic wand 

Of power so rare, 
And all the scene of Fancy plann'd 

Dissolves in air. 

Thine, too, the charm of social hearts, 
Where wit its vivid lightning darts, 
And, answering keen, to age imparts 

The fire of youth, 
Whilst from the fierce encounter starts 

The spark of truth. 

Old Coila first, whose braes among 
Thy infant hands the wild harp strung, 
Shall flourish in thy deathless song 

With lasting fame ; 
And Ayr shall henceforth roll along 

A classic stream. 

But thou, Bard, in silence laid, 

Oh, what shall soothe thy pensive shade 

For youth and genius ill repaid 

With bounty scant. 
And hours of sorrow unallay'd, 

And toil and want ? 

See on thy song, as loud it swells. 
The lordly thane delighted dwells, 
Or to his fair his rapture tells 

By thee inspired ; 
His bosom, as the strain impels. 

Or thaw'd or fired. 

[A concluding stanza has so faded in the author's MS. as to be 




Inaugural Ceremony, 3rd August 1883. 

{Collected from the Local Journals.) 

On Friday, 3rd August 1883, the restored tombstone erected to the memory 
of the maternal grandparents and great-grandparents of the Poet Burns at 
Kirkoswald was inaugurated by an interesting ceremony. Shortly after ten 
o'clock a considerable company assembled in the village, and were conducted 
over the various places made interesting by the Poet. Among other places 
visited were the houses of Peggy Thomson, one of the Poet's earliest 
charmers, and of " Souter Johnnie " (or rather, that of his prototype, John 
Davidson), the hostelry of " Kirkton Jean," and the old schoolhouse attended 
by the Poet. The company then adjourned to the new schoolhouse, in 
which were exhibited some interesting articles which belonged to characters 
introduced in the poem of " Tam o' Shanter." The arm-chair in which the 
Souter was wont to sit, newly covered for the occasion, was sliown to the 
visitors, who were privileged to sit on the ancient relic. " Kirkton Jean's " 
pair of candlesticks were also exhibited, together with the Souter's family 
Bible and family register; the tongue of the bell from the old kirk at 
Tarbolton, mentioned in " Death and Dr. Hornbook," and a cabinet once in 
possession of Kate Stein, the witch in " Tam o' Shanter." Shortly before 
twelve a procession was formed, and, preceded by the stalwart piper of the 
Marquis of Ailsa, tlie company marched into the village through a fine floral 
arch into the auld kirkyard of the parish. Here the auld kirk was visited, 
and the vault prepared for the Ailsa family ; the grave of Douglas Graham, 
the prototype of " Tarn o' Shanter," and his wife Helen M'Taggart ; of " Souter 
Johnnie " and his wife ; and of Hugh Roger, the Poet's schoolmaster. At noon 


a circle was formed round the grave, among those present being the youthful 
Earl of Ca?sillis ; Dr. Eogers, Edinburgh ; Rev. Dr. Uray, Liberton ; liev. 
John Findlay, minister of the parish ; Kev, William Arbuckle, Free Church, 
Kirkoswald ; Rev. R. Lawson, Maybole ; ex-Bailie M'Kie, Kilmarnock ; 
ex-Bailie Rae, Ayr; Francis Marshall of Park; David Murray, writer, 
Glasgow ; and George Wilson of Dalmarnock. 

Dr. Rogers then spoke as follows — Friends and fellow-countrymen, we 
have met to unveil a restored tombstone in a rural churchyard. The 
persons commemorated on that tombstone died upwards of a century ago ; 
while of all of tliem it may be said — 

Along the cool sequester'd vale of life 
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way. 

Yet these humble persons possess a distinction not doubtful, as progenitors 
of one who at the plough sang so sweetly as to awaken the echoes of his 
country. Burns's admirers are familiar with his lines — 

My fatlier was a farmer 

Upon the Carrick bonier, 
And carefully he bred me 

In decency and order. 

But few are aware that from his ancestors, who for many generations were 
husbandmen in Carrick, he derived his love of country, his love of liberty, 
and in a measure his love of song. For those commemorated on this 
tombstone, the Brouns and the M'Greans (or Graemes) and the Rennies, 
sprang from a Celtic stock in the old kingdom of Strathclyde. Their modern 
progenitors were adherents of the Covenant; while in times remote they 
belonged to a people who long preceded the northern races in general 
culture and in a knowledge of the arts. Till the tenth century the Strath- 
clyde people were an unmixed race, and to them, as well as to other Celtic 
tribes, belonged the bards and seannachies. Those familiar with Ossianic 
poetry will mark a resemblance between the breathings of the son of Fingal 
and the minstrelsy of the Ayrshire Bard. Both are charmed by the beauties 
of the landscape, — the hill, the dale, the stream, the lake, the heath, — yet each 
evinces the poetry of action. Both the ancient and the modern bard 
portray the heroic virtues; but what Ossian presents in prowess, Burns 
depicts in sympathy and affection. Ossian's heroines bear formidable 
daggers ; if Burns's heroines kill, it is by the dart of love. And pardon me 


if I venture upon the thought that, through liis Celtic blood, the Bard of 
Scotland may have descended from a race which produced that people who 
sung the Divine praises on the fields of Bethlehem, and hung their harps 
by the rivers of Babylon. That the Celts hailed fi'om Phoenicia is all but 
certain ; and that a portion of Israel joined in their westward migrations, if 
it cannot be proved, is, nevertheless, a pleasing conception. David at his 
lyre, and Burns with his rural harp, have for humanity effected more than 
all the other minstrels of the world. 

For reasons other than any supposed connexion of Robert Burns, through 
his yeomen sires, with the Celtic bards of a distant age, do we renew a 
tombstone lately moss-clad. For in such estimation do we hold the Ayrshire 
Poet, that we would testify our appreciation after a mean sort did we deem 
any of his kindred, whether living or dead, unworthy of our legard. On the 
part of those promoting this restoration, I may say, if any of the Poei's race 
chanced to lack bread, they would not offer them a stone. In effecting 
what we have done, we thought it our duty to preserve from fmther decay 
a simple slab commemorating the forefathers of one who has for his country 
done more " than all her kings." To our forefathers we are, under God, 
indebted largely. If we are strong in body or in mind powerful, the 
inheritance was transmitted to us by our sires ; if our surroundings are 
honourable, these too we derived through the path which our progenitors 
opened up. How much we, as fellow-countrymen of Eobeit Burns, owe to 
the humble husbandmen of Kirkoswald may not well be estimated. In his 
Autobiography, Lord Brougham remarks, respecting his maternal descent 
from the Celtic Robertsons of Struan, that without that ancestry he would 
have "remained in the state of respectable mediocrity" occupied by his 

Burns's ancestors in the Mearns were husbandmen, in rank and culture 
resembling his maternal progenitors at Strathclyde. His father, William 
Burnes, driven by poverty from his early home, at length settled at AUoway, 
and there leased a small farm. He courted Agnes Broun, and won her ; on 
the 15th December 1757 she became his wife. Agnes was born at Kirk- 
oswald; her birth is recorded in the parish register. The Broun sept, to 
which she paternally belonged, may be traced in Galloway for si.K centuries 
at least. Walter le Brun was one of the barons who in 1116 witnessed 
the inquisition of the Church lands in Galloway. During the fifteenth 
century members of the family held municipal offices at Ayr and Prestwick. 
Gilbert Broun was a town councillor of Ayr in 1582. Thereafter persons 
VOL, II. 2 z 


of the name appear at Ayr as skippers, and in Cdirick as husband men. A 
branch settled at Kirkoswald prior to 1639, when John Broun subscribed 
the Covenant there. To the Presbyterian cause members of the I^roun 
family adhered warmly. James and Andrew Broun of Cumnock were 
condemned in June 1683 for being concimed in the insurrection at 
Both well ; while belonging to the same district was John Brown of 
Priesthill, who in May 1685 was by Graham of Claverhouse shot dead 
near his own cottage. The Poet's maternal grandmother had in early youth 
personally sheltered the Covenanters. 

John Broun, farmer at Craigenton, nearly two miles to the south-west of 
the spot on which we are now assembled, grandson of that John liroun who 
subscribed the Covenant, married, in 1695, Janet M'Grean. The Grims, 
Graemes, and M'Greans (for all belonged to the same sept) were Celts. 
Specially renowned for their strength, they derived their family name from 
their physique. Whatever of turbulence our Poet owned came from these 
old Graemes. Janet M'Grean was his great-grandmother, and she died in 
1739. Her husband, nearly twenty years an elder of Kirkoswald parish, 
died in 1724. 

In the farm of Craigenton, extending to nearly three hundred acres, 
John Broun was succeeded by several of his sons, just as in the holding he 
was originally associated with his brothers. Tlie joint occupancy of a farm 
was common in those times, the occupants holding different proportions 
varying from ten to a hundred acres. Each took his share of labour, both 
on the land they held in common, and also on the land of the proprietor, 
service being often an equivalent for rent. In the work of tillage, one held 
the plough, a second drove four horses in the yoke, and a third wielded an 
instrument which cleared the mould-board. 

Of the brothers Broun, Gilbert had a principal share of Craigenton farm. 
He was in circumstances to marry in 1731, when only twenty-fuur. His 
wife, Agnes Ptennie, belonged to the neighbourhood. Great-granddaughter 
of Andrew Eennie, who at Kirkoswald subscribed the Covenant in 1639, she 
derived a remote descent from a sept of the name who, hailing from the 
Rhynns of Galloway, traced descent from the royal line of Stewart. Mrs. 
Gilbert Broun (Agnes PiCnnie), seized with a pulmonary ailment, lay at the 
age of thirty-four upon her death-bed. She had six children, of whom the 
eldest, Agnes, afterwards the Poet's mother, was then in her tenth year. To 
a sister who visited her she said, " I am content to die ; Gilbert will get 
another wife, and I leave my bairns in God's care." Respecting the child 


who reported her saying, llie solemn bequest was realized when, on the 
25th January 1759, her eldest son, Robert Burns, was born. 

When, about two years after Agnes Rennie's death, Gilbert Broun 
married a second time, his eldest daughter proceeded to her grandmother's. 
Afterwards, when a brother of her father's lost his sight, she became his 
housekeeper, and read to him. The stanzas of the ballad, "The Life and 
Age of Man," when sung by his niece, deeply moved him, and he called for 
it frequently. Sung by Agnes Broun to the infant Poet, it evoked his love 
of melody ; on the ballad he founded his " Man was made to mourn." 

Born at Alloway in Kyle, it was meet that the harp which the Poet 
inherited from his Celtic ancestors should be attuned in Carrick. In 1776, 
at the age of seventeen, he was sent to Kirkoswald to complete his 
education as a private pupil of Mr. Hugh Roger, the parish schoolmaster, a 
self-taught mathematician. Here it was hoped he might be accommodated 
as a boarder by his mother's brothei", Samuel, who had lately married. As, 
however, his uncle's space at Ballochneil, within a mile to the westward of 
this spot, was circumscribed, he was taken iuto the farmhouse, the farmer, 
Mr. Robert Niven, being both his uncle's employer and his brother-in-law. 
The Poet's bed-fellow was John Niven, afterwards husband of the school- 
master's daughter, and, as such, father of Miss Janet Niven, an active 
promoter of the movement now consummated so happily, and whose 
presence with us this morning we most cordially welcome. His grandson, 
who' owns his grandfather's feu, is also with us. 

Robert Burns and John Niven became attaclicd friends ; and the Poet, 
when not prosecuting his studies, which he did wilh much ardour, was either 
sauntering with him, or with his cousin, William Niven from Maybole, who 
was boarded at Kirkoswald in order to profit by Mr. Roger's instructions. 
With one or other of these companions, Burns, on the weekly holiday, visited 
interesting scenes, and made visits to ]Maybole and other localities. To a 
cottage in the parish he frequently resorted. This was John Davidson's, the 
souter at Glenfoot ; for John's wife, Anne Gillespie, had been maid-servant 
at Craigenton in his motlier's childhood. Four of the Souter's grandsons are 
within reach of me at this moment. 

The farmer at Shanter, near Glenfoot, was Douglas Graham, probably a 
distant relative of the Poet through his grandmother. Doubtless Burns 
met Graham at Souter Davidson's, for these neighbours were often together. 
Graham invited Burns to his house, and an opportunity of visiting him soon 
occurred. On a school holiday on occasion of the Ayr market, Burns and 


John Niven determined to sail to Ailsa Craij^, fourteen miles distant. At 
the jMaideiis' village they got into a l>oat, but, a strong gale arising, they 
weie compelled to return. As they reached the shore, rain began to fall, 
followed by a terrific thundei-storm. The lads sougiit shelter in Shanter 
farmhouse, and were there welcomed by the gudewife. 

The gudewife of Shanter was Helen M'Taggart. She miglit have been 
prototype of Helen M'Gregor, for she was quick in temper, and in speech 
unwise and rash. She " spoke her mind," and, keeping the lads all day to 
listen to her, she, after lier fashion, denounced both her gudeman and tho 
Souter, who would, she predicted, return from the fair very late. As to her 
husband, she augured that witches (for superstiticm ruled in the district) 
would seize him unawares, or he would be drowned in the J)oon. The lads 
were diverted by her speeches, and laughed at them on their way home. 
Early ne.\t morning Burns drafted his "Tam o' Shanter," which he handed 
to his bedfellow ; it was afterwards shown to Douglas CJraham. The honest 
farmer did not perceive the humour, and simply remarked that the story 
could not apply to him, since his riding beast was a horse, and he never 
had a mare of the name of Meg, nor any mare without a tail. Burns did 
not publish the poem in his Kilmarnock volume, nor did he include it in 
his first Edinburgh edition. When at Ellisland in 1790, Captain Grose 
solicited a poem to be included in his work on Scottish Antiquities, he added 
to the poem and improved it; it appeared in Grose's work in 1791. 

About Douglas Graham, the prototype of Tam o' Shanter, there is 
nothing remarkable. His great-grandfather suijscribed the Covenant in 
1639, and he was an industrious man, with a failing nearly universal 
among Carrick farmers ; he was addicted to smuggling. The burial-place of 
the family is immediately to the south of that of tlie Brouns. "Souter 
Johnnie," an industrious tradesman, often worked in the farmers' houses, 
converting their home-dried leather into shoes for the children and hinds. 
All profited by the Souter's intelligence; all shared his snuff-mull. Neither 
he nor Graham were topers. Their remains rest near the spot we are met 
upon. The Souter died in 1806; he is remembered by his grandson, Mr. 
John Davidson, who is with us to-day. 

" The miller " of " Tam o' Shanter " wa.'j Hugh Broun, of the Poet's race. 
Tenant of Ardh>chan Mill, near the Carrick shore, he was fifty-six in 1776, 
and a hearty bachelor. " The smith " was John Niven, a relative of the 
Ballochneil family, and therefore a connection of the Poet. Prior to his 
time the farm vehicles of Carrick consisted of sledges without wheels. John 

APPENDIX in. 365 

Xiven was the first in tlie district to construct wheeled carts. " Kirkton 
Jean " was Jean Kennedy, who, along with her sister Anne, was landlady of 
the Kirktoun Inn, within one hundred yards of this spot. Known as " the 
Leddies," they were held in general esteem. Tiie witch, 

Lang after kenu'd cm Carrick .shore, 

was Julia llobinson. Aiding smugglers in concealing their stores, she 
was intentionally reputed as uncanny, that her dwelling might not be dis- 
turbed. Her " wee Nannie " was Katherine Stein, also a receiver of cohtra- 
band goods. Kate's cottage, at Park in Ballochneil Glen, had in the centre 
of its single apartment a wide deep pit for concealing smuggled goods. 
That the concealment might be effectual, she sat at her spinning-wheel, 
which, with her chest of drawers or cabinet, which we have seen to-day, 
stood over the entrance. Though styled a witch, Kate was generally 
popular. The name of witch, she remarked to one still living, had not done 
her any harm. In her old age the young hinds resorted to her dwelling to 
hear her old tales. At Ballochneil Mill indigent persons were privileged 
to hang up bags to receive handfuls of nieal from the farmers assembling 
at the mill. Kate's bag was kept full. She died in 1816. In one of his 
walks with John or "William Niven, Burns visited the fairy hillocks of 
Cassilis Downans, beyond Maybole. The visit suggested his ballad of 
" Halloween," in which most of the characters belong to Kirkoswald. " Rab 
M'Grean" was of the Poet's own kindred. "Wee Jenny" was Samuel Broun's 
adopted daughter, and "her uncle Johnnie" was John Niven. "Tam Kipples" 
w as son of Mr. William Cupples, the late minister of the parish. " Eppie 
Sim " was the daughter of Donald Sim, who lived at Ardlochan. " Achnia- 
calla," a name iu the poem not hitherto identified, was the Poet's fanciful 
adaptation of Fardincalla, a place half a mile to the westward of the spot 
on which we now stand, on the farm of Kirklands. 

At Kirkoswald Burns fiist discovered that he was a poet ; here, in the 
second house from the corner of the road leading to the manse from this 
churchyard, he composed one of his earliest songs — that on Peggy Thomson, 
l^efore the school broke up for the autumn holidays iu August, he saw Peggy 
in her father's garden, behind the school, and was entranced. He met and 
talked with the young beauty, and his passion increased ; he could study no 
more, indeed he could hardly sleep. It was well the affair lasted only eight 
days, namely, from the 23rd to the 31st August, otherwise the Poet had 
been hopelessly enslaved. He returned to Mount Oliphant 


To Kiikoswald Burns returned in the summer of 1786, to bid fai-ewell 
to his relatives in the prospect of his emigrating. He was kindly received 
by John Niven, his friend at Ballochneil, also by William Neilson, husband 
of Peggy Thomson, farmer and grocer, who, on his leaving, gave him a long 
convoy. To Pegi:y he presented a copy of his volume, with a poetical 
inscription commencing — ■ 

Once fondly lov'cl, and still reiuember'd dear. 

Since Burns's latest visit to Kirkoswald have sped nearly one hundred 
years. During the interval most of his contemporaries have passed into 
oblivion, remembered only in their family records or on their tombstones. 
His own memory is fresh, — fresh as when he died. At the mention of his 
name is recalled the impersonation of wisdom, manliness, gentleness, and 
common sense. Nature's own high priest, he was consecrated by her hand. 
With his pen has he depicted the loves, the joys, the rural scenes and rural 
pleasures of his country. Breathing the air of song, he has attracted by his 
Muse all hearts, moving some by mirth, others by pathos. In the brook of 
fancy gathering pearls, he has strung them by a faery cord, fit necklace for 
the nation's breast. A magician, he waved the poetic wand, and mountain 
and wood and stream responded to his c^ll. Through his strains do the 
Ayr, the Doon, the Devon, the Bruar, and the Nith glide more smoothly ; 
even the Stinchar, with its inharmonious name, beconjes a melody. To his 
enchanting harp-music assembled the wilil birds and the doves. At his 
smile the stream reflected sunlight; as he sighed, the winds were still. 
Burns interpreted nature in a soul teeming with benevolence ; in his view 
the river hugged its bank, the dew kissed the rosebud, the heath caressed 
the soil, the oak embraced the breeze. 

Milton and Spenser penetrated into the unseen ; Shakespeare exhausted 
words and imagined new; Burns chose as his theme Scotland and humanity. 
Dispensing with the classic verbiage of the elder poets, and discarding all 
artificialities of thought and style, he chose words and figures which the 
cottage might comprehend, yet the learned not disapprove. Eecognising 
the bards who had preceded him, he recast their thoughts, smoothed their 
numbers, and refined their measures. Under the title of " Auld Lang Syne," 
several bards had, not without merit, souglit to awaken tender memories, 
but it was reserved for Burns to produce an ode that could move all hearts, 
and gild with present joy the remembrance of the past. 

Though Burns's genius brimmed with melody, yet, according to the 


testimony of bis contemporaries, poetry was not liis forte. Principal 
Robertson remarked tbat, wbile he was surprised by his poetry, he was 
more so by his prose, and still more by his conversation. Sir Gilbert 
Elliot, afterwards Lord Minto, regarded his refinement as more wonderful 
than his genius. Gentlewomen were fascinated by his eloquence ; a duchess 
testified to the witchery of his talk. 

A king in peasant's garments, his presence inspired veneration. No 
passer-by was content to look at him only once; his eye flashed fervour; 
" his whole countenance " (as his sister remarked to me) " beamed with 
genius." Personally unobtrusive, his demeanour commanded respect and 
repelled presumption. Eank, supported by character, he revered ; but title 
without honour he contemned and spurned. In his eyes 

The honest man, though e'er sae poor, 
Js king o' men for a' that. 

From their dominions despots should exclude the poetry of Burns ; adverse 
to their principles, it is condemnatory of their practice. By birthright, held 
]iurns, all were free ; brothers to each other, slaves to none. Integrity was 
better than abundance, honesty than riches. 

A prince may mak' a belted knight, 

A marquis, duke, and a' that ; 
But an honest man's abune his might, 

Quid faith, he maunna fa' that ! 

There was, felt the Poet, disgrace in indolence, none in poverty. One man 
had as much the right to be poor as had another the right to be rich. 

Is there for honest poverty 

Who hangs his head and a' that 1 
The coward slave — we pass him by, 

And dare be poor for a' that. 

The clothed in purple and fine linen who neglected the poor around him 
might quail in dread of retribution, but he who was willing to earn the fruit 
of honest industry had no cause for shame. 

See yonder poor o'erlaboured wight, 

So abject, mean, and vile, 
"Who begs a brother of the earth 

To give him leave to toil ; 
And see his lordly fellow-worm 

The poor petition spurn, 
Unmindfid though a weeping wife 

And helpless offspring mourn. 


Burns dearly loved liu country. With a poet'a-eye viewing the land 
of his birth, he exclaims — 

Their groves of sweet myrtle let foreign lands reckon, 
AVhere bright-beaming summers exalt the perfume ; 

Far dearer to rae yon lone glen o' green breckan, 
\Vi' the burn stealing under the long yellow broom. 

Scotland was less dear to him from its scenery than as the nursery of 
freedom. Born amidst scenes of pastoral beauty, and within view of Arraii 
with its majestic peaks, nnd Ailsa Craig with its grand broad summit, he, in 
his youth, preferred to meditate in tlie Leglen woods, because there Wallace 
had wandered before him. Even in childhood he dreamt of laying a wreath 
on the altar of his country. He wrote — 

I had, 
A wish — I mind its power — 
A wish that to my latest hour 

Will strongly heave my breast, 
That I for puir aulil Scotland's sake 
Some usef u' plan or beuk could make, 

Or sing a sang at least. 

On the field of Bannockburn he reverently knelt ; he kissed the pave- 
ment stone that in Dunfermline Abbey covered the tomb of the great King 
Robert. In his bosom patriotism was enshrined. For Scotland, who has 
expressed more thrilling sentiments than these : — 

O Scotia, my dear, my native soil ! 

For whom my warmest wish to Heaven is sent, 
Long may thy hardy sous of rustic toil 

Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content ! 

And may Heaven their simple lives prevent 
From Luxury's contagion, weak and vile ! 

Then howe'er crowns and coronets be rent, 
A virtuous populace may rise the while, 
And stand a wall of fire around their much-lov'd isle. 

While animating soldiers on the field of battle, his ode of " Scots wha hae " 
has invigorated the desponding and aroused the brave everywhere. Than 
these, what words more inspiring were ever written : — 

Wha will be a traitor knave % 
Wha can fill a coward's grave \ 
Wha sae base as be a slave 1 
Let hira turn and flee. 


With his poetic wand Burns struck the rock of liberty, and a stream 
gushed forth, never to be dried up. 

When he entered the field of Scottish minstrelsy, he found a lamentable 
degradation. In the castle the songs were coarse, in the cottage licentious- 
ness and the roundelay walked hand in hand. The ballads, whether pub- 
lished in books or vended by the chapmen, were profane. He took them 
up, and in the alembic of his genius a power for evil became a power for 
good. Fire which scorched came to purify ; lead and dross became as gold 
and silver. Of upwards of two hundred and fifty songs, of wliich he was 
the author. Burns composed the greater number to the older melodies as 
substitutes for words demoralizing and worthless. Soon after completing 
this achievement, he passed away, yet already the refining influence of his 
lyre had extended from Kirkmaiden to John o' Groat's, from Fifeness to 
the Mull of Cantyre. 

In restoring woman to her true place as man's companion and equal, 
it was reserved for the Bard of Ayrshire to advance her mission yet a further 
stage. Hitherto discouraged in cultivating her intellectual faculties, she 
now took her proper place in art, in poetry, and in fiction. That ringing 
stroke on the national anvil, which by the hand of Burns emancipated 
woman, made way for the feminine strains of the " Laird o' Cockpen," the 
"Land o' the Leal," " Auld Robin Gray," and other songs of melting 
pathos or overwhelming humour. And what the Ladies Nairne and Anne 
Barnard began has in our own time been sustained by the sweet strains 
of Mrs. Ogilvy in her Highland Minstrelsy, also by other poetesses of 

Burns died at thirty-seven ; his grandmother, Agnes Eennie, at thirty- 
four. From Agnes he inherited a pulmonary weakness, which afflicted him 
even when to others he seemed robust and vigorous. The world had 
probably appreciated the Poet less if he had been associated with the old. 
He died when his work was done. It is related by Cicero, that while 
Tarchun was at the plough, a genius, with a man's head and a child's body, 
started from the furrow, and, having delivered a message of wisdom, sank 
down and died. What the fabled Tages was to Etruria, Burns was to 
Scotland. He rose from tlie furrow, mature and wise, gave forth counsels, 
and sank into his rest. He flashed meteor-like, and passed away, so that, 
when his career had closed, men at first hardly remembered that he had 
lived. Nevertheless he left behind a most precious legacy. What of him 
there was mortal rests near the banks of the Nith, but his immortal part has 
VOL. II. 3 A 


soared up, a bright star in the galaxy of immortals. The spirit of his 
genius hovers in the homes, dwells in the hearts of his countrymen. In 
the words of Longfellow — 

For now he haunts his native land 
As an immortal youth ; his hand 

Guides every plough ; 
He sits beside each ingle nook, 
His voice is in each rushing brook, 

Each rustling bough. 

Elevating were the memories of Caledonia, but its soil was rugged, its climate 
harsh, its winds cold. Educing melody from the blast, minstrelsy from the 
storm, Burns, with the harpsichord of an ardent patriotism, awakened the 
echoes of his country. 

To natives of Scotland his memory is more endeariug than the memory 
of any bard or philosopher, recent or remote. Every spot he trod upon has 
derived an interest from his genius. The cottage of his birth, his several 
dwellings, his oaken staff, his punch-bowl, his arm-chair, the press which 
printed his poems, are treasures, all of them. 

Yet some there are — happily fewer every year — who find pleasure in 
the discovery that Burns had failings like other men. Those who detect 
maculae upon his character must remember that on the sun's disk there are 
spots. If Burns erred, he repented. His errors were those of his time. 
At the centenary celebration of his birth, held in the Glasgow City Hall in 
1859, I remember the reverberating cheers which proceeded from a vast 
assembly when the eloquent chairman. Sir Archibald Alison, expressed 
himself thus : " If any one would remind me of the Poet's errors, I would 
answer him in the words of Bolingbroke, when reminded of the failings of 
his opponent, the illustrious Marlborough : ' Yes, I know he had faults, 
but he was so great a man that I have forgotten what they were.' " On 
the same occasion Colonel William Nicol Burns quoted the Poet's words 
addressed to his mother — " Jean, they'll ken me better an hundred years 
hence than they do now." The Poet augured rightly. 

Burns soiled his wing, yet remained a bird of paradise. His virtues 
have ennobled his race and nation. He was essentially religious. Such 
testimony was strongly borne to myself by his sister, Mrs. Begg, who, being 
twelve years his junior, he instructed in the Catechism and in the Scriptures ; 
he maintained family worship at Mossgiel, and continued it at Ellisland ; he 
devoutly meditated in his chamber, prayed with the sick, worshipped in the 


sanctuary. One of his earliest purchases when he began housekeeping, was 
a family Bible. His letters to Mrs. Dunlop abound in pious sentiments, 
and the Poet would certainly not express what he did not feel. In liis verse 
lie warns against impiety, and in his sacred poems kneels reverently at the 
Divine footstool. His " Cotter's Saturday Night " impresses domestic piety 
upon his countrymen and upon mankind. It was because lie loved religion 
that he condemned its counterfeit — it was because he revered the truth 
that he scorned dissimulation. With that mockery of devotion which could 
in the same breath praise God and defame men, he was more than impatient. 
He wrote — 

All hail, Religion, maid divine, 

Pardon a Muse sae mean as mine. 

Who in his rough imperfect line 
Thus dares to name thee ; 

To stigmatize false friends o' thine 
Can ne'er defame thee. 

If in Burns's writings there are passages which disfigure them, it is well 
to remember that these were not published by himself, but morbidly 
gathered and unrighteously added after he was gone. Not content with the 
flowers which he laid reverently on the altar of his country, his professing 
admirers heaped up with them straw and litter. Better employed had they 
been in making more ample provision for his widow and in advancing his 
sons. Burns's widow, long as she survived him, had no pension from the 
State, and his sons were promoted, not by the body of his admirers, but by 
one individual — Sir James Shaw of London, a native of Ayrshire. All 
his children might have followed the plough like himself, but for this 
good man. 

When Burns in his character and teaching is fully understood, will 
ensue an important change. The melody of his numbers will not only 
gratify, but harmonize. When he is understood, every Burns Club will be 
as a centre of affection — all who unite under his name becoming a band of 
brothers. When he is understood, these lines of his will not only be heard, 
but impress deeply : — 

Ye whom social pleasure charms, 

Whose hearts the tide of kindness warms, 

Who hold your being on the terms, 

" Each aid the others " — 
Come to my heart, come to my arms, 

My friends, my brothers ! 


When Burns is understood, " Willie brewed," in its crushing sarcasm, will 
be fully realized ; the delusive joys of the taproom will pale before the joys 
of the fireside ; and the highest pleasure of life will be experienced in " the 
gude-willie waught " of a sober and wholesome friendship. When Burns is 
understood, the scorpion-sting of slander will no more lacerate ; and tlie 
erring will, under the ample fold of a blessed charity, find forgiveness and a 
home. These words will obtain influence and prevail : — 

Gently scan your brother man, 

Still gentler sister woman ; 
Though they may gang a kcnnin' wrang, 

To step aside is human. 

When Burns is understood, every tiller of the ground will obtain a comfort- 
able home, possessors of the soil finding their chiefest happiness in rendering 
content an industrious peasantry. When Bums is understood, the union in 
his veins of Teuton and of Celt will symbolize the happy effects of uniting 
nations and races by furthering communication and advancing commerce. 
When Burns is understood, Great Britain will less depend for safety on her 
walls of timber and of iron than in inviting her neighbours to a mutual 
confidence. Like the hallowed fire which burned on the Jewish altar, and 
was not extinguished, the fire of our Poet's genius will from age to age 
become brighter, till prejudice and passion disappear in the all-pervading 
flame of a universal amity. In our Poet's words — 

Then let us pray that come it may — 

As come it will for a' that — 
That sense and worth, o'er a' the earth, 

May bear the gree, an' a' that ; 
^Mien man to man, the warld o'er, 

Shall brothers be for a' that. 

In the name of the subscribers, I entrust this restored tombstone to 
the safe keeping of the minister and heritors and kirk - session of 

Rev. John Findlay, minister of the parish, said — Dr. Eogers, 
ladies, and gentlemen, in the name of the kirk - session of Kirkoswald, 
I have much pleasure in undertaking the custody of the chaste and 
appropriate monument which has just been disclosed to view, and I 
beg very cordially to thank you, sir, and your coadjutors, for the trouble 
you have taken in restoring and protecting the old gravestone which com- 
memorates the interesting fact that so many of the maternal ancestors of 


Robert Burns lived and died within the parish of Kirkoswald. I have 
always regarded it as no small honour to this parish that it produced the 
mothers of two such men as Eobert Bruce and Eobert Burns, — the Patriot 
Bruce and the Poet Burns, — the one ranking among tlie greatest warriors, 
and the other among the brightest geniuses which the world has ever seen. 
I have listened witli great pleasure to the eloquent oration which has fallen 
from the lips of Dr. Rogers regarding the descent, the character, and the 
career of Robert Burns, and I think we are greatly indebted to him for 
throwing so much new light upon a deeply-interesting subject. Everything 
tending to elucidate the history of Robert Burns must ever be invested with 
peculiar interest, as it is impossible for any one to deny that Burns was a 
very remarkable man. Though born in a peasant's hut, educated at a parish 
school, and brought up behind the plough, he soon was able to associate on 
a footing of literary equality, if not superiority, with the most learned men 
of the age in which he lived. Though much of his time was unavoidably 
consumed in manual labour and financial worry, and though, like Byron and 
Raphael, he died at the early age of thirty-seven, he yet accomplished, 
during his brief and busy life, an amount of literary work such as few men 
have been able to produce, and some of which will probably live while the 
world lasts. 

Ex-Bailie Rae accepted the tombstone on behalf of the heritors of the 

Dr. RoGEBS then read the following verses, composed for the occasion 
by Mr, Matthias Ban : — 

If ane there be wha disna feel 
A thrill through a' his bein' steal, 
As he surveys this lowly biel' — 

This narrow bed, 
Where sleep, uninov'd by woe or weal, 

The pulseless dead. 

To him we say, " In silence go — 
"We hold thee henceforth as a foe ; 
Thee, Scotland, false intruder, know, 

Indignant spurns. 
Yet learn that from the dust below 

Sprang Robert Burns ! " 

Sprang Burns, the bard to nature true ; 
Sprang Burns, the man we dearly lo'e — 


The man wha baseness never knew ; 

The j^eu'rous mind 
That shed its love like simmer dew 

O'er a' mankind. 

His heart — a hame where care might win 
A place for want to shelter in ; 
Nor did he deem it ocht o' sin 

To harl>our there 
Dumb things, that at his ca' wad rin 

His meal to share. 

I see him restless, wanderin' wide, 
"NVi' head erect and manly stride, 
"Where tumblin* waters seaward glide, 

His soul on fire — 
His dark e'e tum'd wi' look o' pride 

Uj)on his lyre. 

I hear him murmurin' saft and low 
His tender grief for ithers' woe ; 
I mark him smite wi' fearless blow 

The false and vain ; 
And hear in words that bum and glow 

Truth speak again. 

I see him auld before his time, 

I hear him groan frae chime to chime ; 

Still pourin' forth his strains sublime. 

Till breaks his heart ; 
And last I see him, ere his prime, 

In gloom depart. 

Depart, but not to share, forgot 
Like common men, the common lot ; 
Oh, never while there breathes a Scot 

Shall die his fame ! 
Or Memory frae her pages blot 

His honour'd name. 

While bosoms throb wi' hopes and fears, 
"While woman's eyes shed love and tears, 
"While mountains rise and rivers flow, 
"While star-lit evenings come and go, 
"While roll the earth and skies along, 
"While lives the voice of nature's song, 
While sings a bird or sighs a breeze, 
He will not die, but live with these ! 


And sae to them frae whom he sprang — 
This heav'n-sent lighter o' the wrang — 
We honour give ; and, oh, may lang 

This tribute here 
Be sacred, and, like Robin's sang. 

To Scotland dear ! 

With regard to the work of restoration, the method adopted has been to 
frame the old stone in a new one of durable Annan rock, so as to expose 
both faces to view. The old stone, which is circular-headed, measures three 
feet by two feet, and is about six inches thick ; the new stone encasing it is 
four feet eight inches by three feet eight inches, and one foot thick, resting 
on a double splayed base eighteen inches high ; the whole height being thus 
a little over six feet. The only enrichment is a simple moulding round the 
panels and splays on the outside angles, embracing wreaths of the Scottish 
thistle and mountain daisy. In the space above the old stone is the 
inscription, "By Public Subscription Re-erected 1883," and underneath, 
" The enclosed tombstone commemorates the grand and great-grandparents 
of the Poet Burns." In the panel of the upper base are engraved the 
following lines : — ■ 

From simple sires the Bard had sprung, 

The Scottish harp who sweetly strung ; 

'Midst lowly scenes flashed forth the tire 

That kindled up the Carrick lyre. 

The names of the Poet's ancestors, among others which appear on the 
original tombstone, are " John Broun in Littletoun, who died March 3, 
1724, aged fifty, and his wife, Janet M'Grean, who died March 28, 1738, 
aged sixty ; also Gilbert Broun, formerly farmer at Craigenton, who died in 
1774, aged seventy-nine, and his first wife, Agnes Broun, who died in May 
1742, aged thirty-four." The work of restoration has been most satis- 
factorily executed by Mr. Joseph Boyd, sculptor, Ayr, under the direction 
of Messrs. Hay & Henderson, architects, Edinburgh. 

A dinner was afterwards held in Kirkoswald Hotel. The company 
included the following, an excellent feature being the presence of ladies : — 
Dr. Charles Rogers, Edinburgh ; Rev. Dr. Gray, Liberton ; Rev. John 
Eindlay, minister of the parish ; Rev. William Arbuckle, Free Church, 
Kirkoswald ; Rev. R. Lawson, West Church, Maybole ; ex-Bailie M'Kie, 
Kilmarnock ; Bailie Rae, Ayr ; Lieut. Chapel, Maybole ; Messrs. James 


Hutchison, Kirkoswald ; Francis ^lai-shall of Park ; David Murray, writer, 
Glasgow ; George Wilson of Dalmarnock ; Peter Wilson, Girvan ; David 
Murray, Culzean ; A. B. Todd, Cumnock; and William M'Dowall, of the 
Dumfries Standard. There were also present David, Matthew, and James 
Davidson, grandsons of " Souter Johnnie ; " and Miss Janet Niven, daughter 
of John Niven, companion of the Poet. 

Dr. Rogers presided, and Messrs. Murray and G. Wilson acted as 

After dinner the Chairman explained that it was intended that Mr, 
Charles Tennant, M.P., should have presided, but the hon. gentleman could 
not leave his Parliamentary duties. It was ex| ected that Bailie Wilson of 
Glasgow would in that case have taken the chair, but, as senior magistrate, 
he could not leave Glasgow. Hence he had to occupy the place of honour. 
He was glad that they were favoured with the presence of the descendants 
of those who were pei*sonal fiiends of the Poet, 

The toast of " The Queen " having been proposed, and duly responded to, 
the Rev. Dr. Gray of Liberton, in proposing the memory of the Poet, said — r 
There is one central figure round which all of us are grouped, and which 
gives to our proceedings here to-day their special significance. That central 
figure represents Robert Burns. I give you his immortal memory. A century 
ago he was just rising into local celebrity as a rustic bard. A few years 
after he acquired a national reputation. He has long enjoyed a world-wide 
fame. Few now deny that he is well entitled to his fame ; and we rejoice 
to-day to pay our humble tribute to his transcendent genius. That genius 
showed itself in many ways — in his conversational powers, in his literary 
correspondence, as well as in his poetry. Professor Dugald Stewart, a com- 
petent judge, spoke of Burns as a very great man all round, tliongh his 
greatness specially broke out in poetry. But, indeed, a true and heaven- 
born poet must be a man of his special and transcendent gifts. It is easy 
enough to throw thought and feeling into rhyme, but the heaven-born poet 
is a rare phenomenon. He is a man who has that clear vision of the eye 
which reads what others dimly discern — that keen susceptibility of the 
heart which is deeply moved by things which others scarcely feel — that 
exquisite gift of speech which can express with aptitude and power what 
others can but stammeringly utter forth. The true poet is a man of genius, 
who gets in mist and vapour and gives in flood ; who interprets things and 
beings around to us, and even interprets us to ourselves; who paints for us 
word-pictures from the varied scenes of nature and Providence, and the 


varied phases of human nature and human life — pictures we prosaic mortals 
cannot paint, but the truthfulness, the beauty, and the form of which, when 
set before us, we must admit and feel. The heaven-born poet carries in 
his soul an ^olian harp. His heart-strings are its strings. They tremble 
and thrill under every breath of heaven, every breeze of feeling, every gust 
of passion. That is a music we cannot create, but we cannot but respond 
to it, and sometimes it moves and stirs our spirits to their very depth. 
So judging, we say that Eobert Burns was undoubtedly a man of rare 
genius — a poet of the truest and the higliest kind — a Scotsman worthy of his 
undying fame. What a marvellous power he has exerted — what a power 
he still exerts over the human soul ! How many ardent admirers— nay, 
devoted worshippers — has he in every part of the civilized world, and 
among all classes of society ! The sparks of genius have everywhere 
kindled warming fires of sympathy with nature, with the lower animals, 
with our fellow-men — fires of manly independence and social fellowship, of 
friendship and patriotism, of liberty and love, of general humanity and 
Christian charity ! He helped men everywhere to believe in the fatherhood 
of God, in the brotherhood of man, and in the dignity of human nature as the 
work of God, and apart from all the accessories and accidents of birth and 
fortune. They have wondered and admired as they have felt in turns the 
Poet's humour and pathos, his truthfulness and power, his manly strength and 
womanly tenderness, his spiritual insight and graphic description, his integrity 
and biting sarcasm, and his pitying heart. Even those who only know his 
often untranslatable words through the medium of a foreign tongue have 
bowed down before the might and majesty of the genius of Burns. iMuch 
more, wherever the English language is known and spoken, his poetry is a 
heart-prized treasure and a household joy. But Burns is especially the poet 
of Scotland. To appreciate him to the full, we must use neither translation 
nor glossary when we read. It is therefore thorough and sympathetic 
Scotsmen and Scotswomen who most of all feel the spell of this mighty 
enchanter, and enjoy the feast which he provides. To them he gives from 
day to day, and wherever they are, pleasure riches cannot give, and poverty 
cannot take away. Think of the Scottish emigrant in lonely isolation far 
from home. Often, as he looks at sunnier skies than his own, at fields more 
fertile, at seas more bright and varied in their hues than the "land of brown 
heath and shaggy wood," he says, " This is no' my ain plaid, bonnie though 
the colours be." But he takes up the poems of Burns ; he reads " Tani o* 
Shanter," or the " Cotter's Saturday Night ; " he begins to sing " Ye banks 

VOL. II. 3 B 


and braes," or " Scots wha hae." And, as he reads on, his solitude is 
solaced, his heart is softened, the days of auld langsyne come back to him. 
The distance that divides hira from his beloved Scotland is annihilated ; he 
breathes again his native air, and in that hour with Burns he drinks in 
large and blessed draughts of refreshment, and comfort, and strength, and 
joy. And if the magician's spell is felt in this way far from home, 
what shall I say of it in Scotland itself — in Ayrshire — in the very 
land and home of Robert Bums ? My toast is, " His immortal memory." 
But, gathered as we are together here, his seems more a living presence than 
a cherished memory. There are some nien whom we can hardly reckon 
among the departed. They live, and move, and have their being while 
upon the earth — exerting influence, doing work, making their presence felt 
from day to day. Such a man is Iiobert Burns. His is more tlian an 
immortal memory among us. His is an undying life. And specially we 
feel his presence here. Places have spirits as well as persons ; and the 
Ayrshire Poet is the central figure here to-day. In speaking thus admiringly 
and lovingly of Bums, I may be told that I am forgetting that the influence 
of his writings has not always been for good. Irreligion, and intemperance, 
and impurity have pressed some passages of his poetry into their service 
and dragged down their votaries by conjuring with his name. Alas ! 
there are few whose writings have been all and always on tlie side of 
goodness. There are indeed, as we must all allow, verses in his writings 
that would have been better unwritten ; but, while we condemn, let us 
remember the time in wliich he lived, the condition and the circumstances 
under which he wrote. To judge of the writings of Burns, we must not only 
compare those with ours — we must compare them with contemporary 
writings — with those that went before. And I profess to you, when I think, 
for instance, of some of the foul indecencies of some of our old Scottish songs 
— when I consider the work of Burns in substituting his own for them — 
I feel that, in spite of occasional stains, Scotland and Christendom are under 
eternal obligations to the Ayrshire Bard. There was only one way of 
burying the foul grossness of these old songs. That was by linking the 
sweet music to other and to better words. Burns did this, and thereby 
purified immensely the minstrelsy of Scotland. There may be still a 
sediment of pollution, but it is nothing to what existed before. You may 
remember the rather Irish couplet about our Highland roads — 

Had you seen but these roads before they were made, 

You would have held up your hands and bless'd General Wade. 



So those of us who know what tlie old songs of Scotland were, may well 
lift up our hands and hless the name of Burns for the national boon he has 
given us in connexion with our Scottish minstrelsy. One word as to his 
life before I close. It is too true that it was not what it should or what it 
might have been. There was a sad difference between the ideal life he 
sometimes portrayed and the real life lie sometimes led. It would contradict 
the whole tenor of his writings, it would offend the sincerity of their 
character, to gloss over the poet's faults, or to call his evil good. He him- 
self has told us, in the " Bard's Epitaph," how he looked upon himself: — 

Tlie poor inhabitant below 

Was quick to learn and wise to know, 

He keenly felt the friendly glow, 

And softer flame ; 
But thoughtless follies laid him low, 

And stained his name. 

Here, too, however, we can find extenuating circumstances — natural 
temperament, early toil in unfavourable surroundings, in rougher times than 
ours. It was something that he saw and admired to the end, that vision 
of Divine goodness which floated before his view, though he could not, at 
least after he reached the years of manhood, clasp it to his very heart. 
And surely it is for us to " gently scan our brother man." Burns says : — 

Who made the heart, 'tis He alone 

Decidedly can try us ; 
He knows each chord, its various tone. 

Each spring, its various bias : 
Then at the balance let's be mute. 

We never can adjust it ; • . 

What's done we partly may compute, 

But know not what's resisted. 

In speaking thus, I have expressed, however imperfectly, the feelings of your 
hearts. Let us, therefore, cover with the ivy of our love the rents and 
defacements of that God-made temple. Let us look with wonder and 
admiration on the radiant light that streams forth so brightly from its 
windows still, on us and on the world. Let us listen with delight and 
thankfulness to those strains, so grand and beautiful, that issue from its 
shrine. We are proud of the Poet of Scotland because of his transcendent 
gifts, his genial nature, and his glorious work. We are not blind either to 
his failings on the one hand or to his good qualities on the other. With 
all his faults we love him still. We will cherish an admiring and affectionate 


remembrance of his genius and fame to our latest breath. "We will look upon 
his works as amongst our country's most precious treasures. To-day wo 
rejoice to remember him, and whether we pledge this toast in water, whisky, 
or wine, we drink, one and all, I know, with heart and soul, to the immortal 
memory of Robert Burns. 

Eev. R. Lawson proposed the toast of " Carrick and its memories." No 
part of Scotland had produced such great men as Carrick, and the stock was 
by no means yet exhausted. 

Mr. W. Davidson, grandson of the " Souter," replied. 
The Chairman gave " The Poet's Friends : their honoured memory." 
Mr. George Wilson, in reply, gave some interesting reminiscences of 
Mr. Peter Hill, his grandfather, and one of the Poet's most attached 

Mr. A. B. Todd proposed " The living Commentators of Burns." 
The other toasts were, " The Lasses of Ayrshire," proposed by Mr. 
William M'Dowall, and replied to by Lieut. Chapel ; " The Custodiers of the 
Tombstone," by Mr. D. Murray, replied to by Rev. Mr. Findlay ; " The 
Architect and Sculptor," by the Chainnan, and replied to by Messrs. 
Henderson and Boyd ; " The Contributors," by ex-Bailie Rae ; and " The 
Chairman," by Dr. Gray. Mrs. Murray sang very sweetly some of the 
Poet's most popular songs, accompanying herself on the guitar. The pro- 
ceedings terminated by the company joining in " Auld Lang Syne." 




Inaugura,l CekExMONy, 25th June 1885. 

{From the Brechin Advertiser.) 

On Thursday last the solitary churchyard of Glenbervie was the scene of a 
ceremony which may lay claim to be of national interest — the unveiling of 
the restored tombstones of the great-grandparents and the great-granduncle 
of Robert Burns. The churchyard is situated on a picturesque knoll, at a 
finely-wooded curve of the river Bervie, and there, under the dark shadow 
of the Knockhill, rest the remains of the progenitors of the national Poet — 
slirewd, skilful husbandmen of considerable substance. The family of 
Burnes rented land in Kincardineshire, in the parishes of Kinneff, Arbuth- 
not, Dunnottar, and Glenbervie. At Glenbervie rested upon the soil two 
flat gravestones ; one with the dates 1715 and 1719, commemorating William 
Burnes, tenant in Bogjorgan, great-granduncle of the Poet, and his wife. 
Christian Fotheringham, the other commemorating James Burnes, tenant in 
Brawlinmuir, and his wife, Margaret Falconer, these being the Poet's great- 
grandparents. Both memorial stones are considerably decorated, one with 
symbolic ornaments, indicating on the part of the family a consciousness 
of superior station. Mr. J. B. Greig, banker, Laurencekirk, himself a 
descendant of the Poet's " forbears," some years ago called attention in the 
newspapers to the dilapidated condition into which the tombstones of the 
Poet's ancestors had fallen. Mainly through his exertions, a committee was 
appointed to raise the necessary funds to restore the stones. The respected 
Laird of Glenbervie, Mr. Badenach Nicolson, entered heartily into the 
movement, and without difficulty the required amount was forthcoming. 


The original supports of the monuments had long since given way, and tlie 
" frail memorials " on which the names of the deceased were recorded had 
lain on the ground covered with long grass. The stones have now been 
placed on sandstone cradles, resting on pedestals, the designs being supplied 
by Messrs. Hay & Henderson, architects, Edinburgh, and the plans carried 
out by Mr. W. Watt, mason, Laurencekirk. Round the edge of the new 
cradle, in which the tombstone of the former has been placed, is the inscrip- 
tion : — "James Burnes, tenant in Brawlinmuir, died 23rd January 1743, 
Margaret Falconer, his wife, died 28th December 1749. This tomb of the 
great-grandparents of the Poet Burns is restored by public subscription 
1885." The following is the original inscription : — 

Mbmxnto Mori. 
J.B. 17 42. M.F. 

Also the bcnly of Margaret Falconer, 
his spouse, who departed this life the 
28th of Dec. 1749, aged 90 years. 

Here under lyi'S the Ixnly of James 
Burnes who was Tenant in Bralinnmir, 
who died ye 23 of January 1 743. Aged 

87 years. 

Although our Boilys worms destroy — our reins consumed be, 
Yet in our flesh and with our eyes, shall our Bedeemeu see. 

Here is the grave of Thomas Burnes, son to the above, who departed this 
life June ye 8 1734, aged 29 ye^rs. — Also his lawful and only daughter 
Margarett, who departed this life March ye 24th 1741, aged 8 years. 

The tombstone of the Poet's great-granduncle bears very marked traces of the 
ravages of time, and in some parts the inscription is illegible. The follow- 
ing is all that can be definitely traced : — 

W.B. : C.F. : 

Here under lyes . . . Burnes 

. 1715 
I.B. : W.B. : R.B. : 

and here lyes his son John Burnes, who departed the 10th 
of April 17 being of age 3 

The slab from which this inscription is taken is cofifin-shaped, and covers 
the grave of William Burnes and Christian Fotheringham, the great-great- 
grandparents of John Burnes, author of " Thrummy Cap," and other poetical 


The sequestered spot in which these remains rest is worthy of a 
visit, not only because of its historical associations, but also on account of 
its beautiful surroundings. A portion of the old church occupies the 
centre of the burying-ground, and is now used as the burial vault of the 
Glenbervie family. Within the same enclosure are the tombs of some of 
the famous Douglas family, that of Archibald " Bell the Cat " being the 
most noteworthy. 

Thursday being bright and clear, at the hour appointed for the unveiling 
of the tombstones, which were covered by a Union Jack, a large company 
assembled in the churchyard, among those present being — Eev. Charles 
Kogers, D.D., LL.D., Edinburgh ; Mr. Alexander Stuart of Inchbreck ; Mr. 
llobert Burness, Stonehaven ; Mr. William Burness, Bedford ; Mr. J. B. 
Greig, Laurencekirk ; Mr. J. C. Thomson, Sheriff-Clerk-Depute, Stone- 
haven ; Mr. John Hanipton, solicitor, Stonehaven ; Rev. C. C. Macdonald, 
Aberdeen ; Dr. Maitland Moir, Aberdeen ; Mr, D. H. Edwards, publisher, 
Brechin ; Rev. William Gordon, Glenbervie ; Rev. John Reith, Riccarton ; 
and Mr. Robert Crabb, banker, Auchinblae. 

Tlie company having assenibled in the churchyard, a party, who had 
previously lunched at Glenbervie House, arrived at three o'clock, preceded 
by Mrs. Nicolson, Dr. Rogers, and Mr, D. H. Edwards, carrying large 
wreaths of wild-flowers, which had been tastefully arranged by Mrs. 

Mr. J. B. Greig, secretary of the committee, presided. He said — A pro- 
fessional engagement has made it impossible for our Chairman, Mr. Badenach 
Nicolson, to be with us to-day. That engagement became known to the 
members too late to admit of their deferring our meeting. Mr. Nicolson has 
taken a keen interest in the matter, and feels much regret at the untoward 
event. I congratulate you on the charming weather, and offer on behalf of 
the committee a cordial greeting to the visitors we are pleased to see in 
such numbers. 

Rev. W. Gordon thereafter offered up an impressive prayer. 

Mr. Greig then said — Nearly a hundred years ago Burns was in 
the zenith of his powers, and the world was about to realize the peerless 
spell of his poetry. Great and enduring as is the renown shed on Scotland 
by the prowess of her sons in the world of action, it pales before that 
derived from the lyrics of the national Bard. While most thoroughly ft 
Scotsman and a child of the period, he sang for men of every age and 
country. Whether in jocund or waesorae mood, the deepest throes of the 


human heart find voice through liis songs. The " thoughts too strong to 
be suppressed, too deep to be expressed," struggled to utterance. We liave 
had untoward estimates of the man, and editors who take on them to 
publish much that Burns never sanctioned, bemoan his follies. Ay, friends, 
he was indeed human, but he did not allow his judgment to swerve and 
confuse right with wrong. His sins are not charged against us, and, 
remembering how much we owe, under heaven, to him, it were more fit 
that, stepping back reverently, we should draw a veil over what concerns 
US little and can profit us nothing. It were well stone-throwing were left 
to those void of offence. Bums's being no evanescent fame, we have felt 
that such memorials in our country as are associated with his name would 
be of interest to our children's children, and were deserving of our reverend 
care. Such glimpses as we get of the old race interest us much on their 
own account. They seem to have been of keen insight, sparing of speech, 
not easily " shot aboot," dour but not vengeful. To such njen the tragedy 
of life brought many and great vicissitudes, and such natures and their 
traditions were a heritage of the Bard, In every life there is much of 
poetry and of prose ; and Burns had the gift of reading the full- charged 
page. Can we doubt that he heard much of what his ancestors were, of 
their gladness, of their sorrow, of their sharp variances, of their deep 
affections, of their stout contentions for the cause they espoused, and of 
their chequered fates ? You will be glad to hear that we have got sufficient 
money for the object we had in view. The Mearns men here and elsewhere 
sent cheerfully, and it may interest you to know that tlie Australian con- 
tingent was among the earliest to respond. Our southern frieuds proffered 
their aid also, and forced the running. Mr. Stuart of Inchbreck, proprietor 
of Brawlinmuir, has always shown a great interest in matters affecting 
Burns, and in coming from Laithers to-day, expressly to receive in name of 
himself and the other heritors those memorials which I am about to confide 
to his care, he has given fresh proof of his interest, I have every confidence, 
in committing these valued relics of the past to their care, that the heritors 
will acquit themselves worthily in their trust. In name of the subscribers, 
I beg to ask that you, Mr. Stuart, will accept our thanks for your past 
courtesy, and the charge of these tombs. 

Mrs. NicoLSON then removed the Union Jack. Having received the 
wreaths from Dr. Rogers and Mr. Edwards, she placed one on each of the 
tombstones, the company meanwhile uncovering. 

Mr. A, Stuart then said — I aoa sure you will all agree with me in 


expressing our great regret that an unavoidable engagement has prevented 
Mr. Nicolson from being present on this interesting occasion. I know that 
he deeply regrets having to be absent, and I confess I do so also, because his 
mantle has fallen on my most unworthy shoulders. There is only this 
fitness, that I happen to be the propiietor of the estate which cradled 
the race of Burns. I esteem it a high and great honour to still hold the 
portions of land on which they first saw the light, and I hope that the 
recollection of the family will never die out in this neighbourhood. Burns 
has a world-wide fame. It is only recently that a bust of the Poet has 
been erected in Westminster Abbey, and the Americans are equally jealous 
of our common birthright. As to the Poet I will not speak. I merely 
refer to his ancestors, to whom we have this day come to do honour. It is 
lit and proper that the tombstones of the " forbears " of a great man should 
not be allowed to disappear, but should be kept uninjured for future ages. 
As representing the heritors, I accept the guardianship of the relics which 
you have been pleased to restore. 

Dr. EoGEES said — That Eobert Burns was, in respect of his great powers, 
directly indebted to his ancestors, may not be affirmed. Neither may we 
venture to assert that he arose in a soil which had no preparation. So to 
speak would be to substitute for providential pre-arrangement the govern- 
ment of chance. As in the meadow there are spots more especially 
efflorescent, and which produce plants odorous and honey-laden, so from 
certain races, or certain combinations of races, descend those who, by their 
thoughts and activities, tend to renovate and ennoble. And permit me to 
say that I for one incline to believe in the strong influence of heredity. 
Like oil on water, mental power rises to the surface, and, though beclouded 
for generations, will emerge and assert itself. In the parish of Arbuthnot, 
the place now called Kair was formerly known as Burnhouse, or by 
abbreviation Burnes, and there are similar designations in Fife and else- 
where. The appellative points to proximity to a burn or small stream. 
Territorial names, common everywhere, were especially so in the north- 
eastern counties, and it is not unreasonable to assume that when surnames 
were adopted the owner of the lands of Burnhouse assumed the name of his 
lands. Now we learn, on the authority of the late Professor Stuart of 
Inchbreck, that in this parish of Glenbervie persons named Burnes were 
tenants in 1547, when the lands of Inchbreck were transferred to the 
Professor's family by Sir Alexander Douglas of Glenbervie. On the 5th 
April 1637 John Burnes appears as chamberlain to Sir Alexander Strachan 
VOL. II. 3 c 


of Thornton, when he .attached his name at Edinburgh to a legal instrument 
granted by the Earl of Traquair, Treasurer of Scotland, to Alexander 
Straitoun of that ilk. On the 2Gth August 1659 Patrick Burness sub- 
scribes an instrument as clerk to the Presbytery of Brechin. And from 
the middle of the seventeenth century downwards members of the family, 
with their names variously spelt Duruace, Burnas, Burnes, and Burness are 
mentioned in the local registers as tenant-farmers in the parishes of 
Fordoun, Garvock, Benholm, Kinneff, Arbuthnot, and Glenbervie. That 
these several families were descended from the Kair or Arbuthnot stock 
may be reasonably assumed, while the fact that these persons acquired 
substance and maintained a good social status would imply that they 
possessed energy and intelligence. In the parish register of Arbuthnot is 
the following entry: — "At the Kirk of Arbuthnot, the 27th of August, 
1633, the said day Robert Burnes presentit ane child to be baptizit callit 
Robert. Witness thereto Robert Krow in ParkheacL" This Robert Krow, 
or Crow, after whom the child was named, seems to have derived his name 
from his landlord, Sir Robert Arbuthnot. And so was the Christian name 
of Robert introduced into the Burnes family. Robert Bunies, the child 
baptized at Arbuthnot in 1633, is in the register of that parish described 
in June 1655, when he married Elizabeth "Wise, as residing at Glenbervie. 
As the parish registers of Glenbervie are non-existent prior to 1721, and 
the marriage register prior to 1747, we cannot trace the actual succession 
of Robert Burnes and his wife, Elizabeth Wise. But there exists a certified 
inventory of the I7th of July 1705, containing an account of the stock on 
Bogjorgan farm, in Glenbervie, and in which James Burnes is mentioned as 
late lessee of half the fann. He became tenant in Brawlinmuir, on the 
estate of Inchbreck, and there remained till his death, which, as is 
recorded on one of these tombstones, took place on the 23rd January 
1743, when he had attained the advanced age of eighty-seven. On 
the same stone is commemorated his wife, Margaret Falconer, who, as 
the inscription bears, died on the 28th December 1749, aged ninety. 
In his will, drawn up on the 14th day of June 1740, he divided his 
movable estate among his five children, conjoining with his statement of 
bequests the injunction that his children should " be careful of and dutiful 
to their mother," and " be at peace and unity among themselves." His 
eldest son, Robert, mentioned as such in the will, rented first the farm of 
Kinraonth in Glenbervie, and afterwards the farm of Cloclinaliill in the 
parish of Dunnottar. At Clochnahill he built a school, and aided in 


supporting a teacher. By his wife, Isabella Keith, of the family of Keith 
of Craig, he had, along with six daughters, four sons, of whom William, 
the third son, was, according to the family Bible, born at Clochnahill on the 
11th November 1727. His migration from these scenes led to his settle- 
ment in Ayrshire, and his there marrying a woman of Celtic stock, by whom 
he became the father of our great minstrel. Eobert Burns has been 
described as a peasant. He was so inasmuch as his father cultivated his 
own farm, and by his own hands reared the mud cottage in which he 
first saw the light. But this connexion with the lowest grade was purely 
incidental, for he was, as these stones testify, sprung from a race of 
substantial yeomen, and more remotely, as would appear, from tlie lairds of 
Burnhouse. Now, when some two years ago, on an occasion similar to the 
present, I had occasion to look into the Poet's pedigree on the maternal 
side, I succeeded in tracing his forefathers for at least one hundred and 
twenty years as substantial yeomen on the Carrick coast. Not only so, but 
liis mother's family, the Brouns, and those with wliom they intermarried, 
proved to be persons of prominence among the middle-class gentry of the 
west. Burns's maternal ancestors were Celts, and within half a century of 
his birth spoke Gaelic. Now it is historically certain that the county of 
Kincardine was peopled by Scandinavians, and it may be questioned whetlier 
one of the Poet's paternal stock was of the Celtic race. The union of the 
two races of Saxon and Celt in his house first occurred by the marriage of 
William Burnes and Agnes Broun — a union of which the first issue 
appeared on the 25th January 1759, when the great minstrel was born. 
Might we not poetically say that in that birth was provided tlie keystone of 
an arch, of which one pillar rested on the rocks of Carrick and the other on 
the wild, rough shores of Bervie and Dunnottar ? From under that gigantic 
archway have passed and are passing to every portion of the globe those 
who have had their energies fostered or promoted and strengthened througli 
the songs and poetry of Burns. It was remarked of our Poet by Hugh 
Miller, that he was the first who taught his countrymen to look up. 
Whether such is the fact I will not say, but he has certainly shown that 
no man, if he honestly fulfils his duties and is faithful to his God, has 
any cause to look into the dust or bow his head in shame. Better than any 
philosopher, or moralist, or essayist, or orator, or any other poet, has taught 
the descendant of the Brawlinmuir yeoman that the jewel of honour may 
not be obscured by the meanness of its setting, nor manliness defaced by 
lack of goods. Poverty, he set forth, has its privileges, adversity its 


compensation, and he only is a slave who holds indigence as a disgrace. 
Not in any age nor in any language have the sentiments of uninspired man 
taken nobler form than in these lines : — 

Is there for honest poverty 

That hangs his liead, an' a' that ; 
The coward slave — we pass him by, 

We dare be poor for a' that. 
For a' that, and a' that, 

Our toils obscure an' a' that, 
The rank is but the guinea's stamp, 

The man's the gowd for a' that. 

In the view of the IJrawlinmuir yeoman's descendant, a man is dignified 
only by wisdom, ennobled only by virtue, while the clothing that is supplied 
by the industry of the wearer is more truly adorning than upon the 
shoulders of the indolent is a robe of the richest texture. The man of 
independent mind, taught Burns, might dare to be poor ; his inheritance was 
a nobleness of nature which rank could not confer, nor adverse fortune 
eradicate. In all that concerns humanity in its loftiest aspect, what lines 
are more elevating than these two ? — 

Princes and lords are but the breath of kings, 
An honest man's the noblest work of God. 

Do we not well, then, to testify our veneration for the ancestors of that great 
Bard, who finding in decay the patriotic memories, brought them forth anew, 
giving them strength and force in his own imperishalde minstrelsy. In the 
words of Thomas Campbell — 

"What patriot pride he taught ! how much 
To weigh the inborn worth of man ; 
And rustic life and poverty 
Grew beautiful beneath his touch. 

Is there any one who is prepared to assert tliat Burns would have been the 
patriotic poet he was had he not derived his being from a race who, familiar 
with the scenes and ways of Caledonia, transmitted to their descendant, by 
precept and example, as well as by an inherent tendency, the love of country 
and of kind ? Genius, meteoric and underived, is in its direction under the 
guidance of example and of heredity. As by the late Loid Crawford it is 
asserted that all of the family name of Lindsay are incapable of dishonouring 
it, so may we assert of the ancestors of Robert Burns, that each was true. 


Of their own concerns had they been careful only, — that is, had they been 
of the selfish school, — more gear they had left to him who whistled at the 
plough, but might we then have had from his pen those expressions of 
benevolence, combined with the hope of the coming time 

When man to man the world o'er 
Shall brothers be 1 

For a course of ages had poets and others been seeking to realize what 
constituted the chief good. The great-grandson of the tenant at Brawlinmuir 
has expressed it thus : — 

To make a happy fireside clime 

To weans and wife, 
That's the true pathos and sublime 

Of human life. 

When the Poet, in the autumn of 1787, made his northern tour, he included 
in it Stonehaven and Laurencekirk, but it is doubtful whether he visited 
Glenbervie. To him there would not have been much pleasure in contem- 
plating what he had lost, and it is even possible that his sagacious father 
may have withheld from his eldest son that knowledge which might have 
awakened his discontent. Yet surely it becomes us, and all who cherish 
the memory of his genius, to regard as especially sacred one spot — that 
under the shadow of the Knockhill, where, by one of the gentlest of 
Scotland's streams, rests in the kirkyard of Glenbervie the dust of his 
ancestors. Burns, although he had in his time many troubles and trials, 
was not left unnoticed. He was not overlooked by many eminent literary 
admirers, and one of those who, on his arrival in Edinburgh, first took him 
by the hand was the celebrated Lord Monboddo. We have a lineal 
descendant of Lord Monboddo here to-day in the person of Mrs. Nicolson, 
who has so suitably placed these wreatlis on the tombstones of the Poet's 
ancestors. Most appropriately indeed is that lady present on this interesting 
occasion, so as publicly to evince that she is possessed of the same spirit 
that actuated her progenitor in doing honour to one so worthy of it, and 
who has cast an enduring lustre upon his country, and made Scotland 
celebrated throughout the earth. 

Dr. Maitland Mom, President of the Aberdeen Burns' Club, after 
referring to the feelings which inspired him on entering the churchyard of 
Glenbervie for the first time, said that Shakespeare, Goethe, and Burns had 
been the three greatest lights we had had in literature. It was, however, 


the simple impulse of his nature that had inspired Burns to write. He was 
sure that our natioual Bard would have been proud had he seen such 
beautiful wreaths placed on the tombstones of his ancestors. The Doctor 
then referred to the researches of Mr. Thomson, Stonehaven, in regard to the 
ancestors of Burns, referring particularly to his having liunted up the Will 
of James Barnes of Brawlinmuir, dated in 1740, He was very proud to be 
allowed to be present, and to add a sinjjle remark in tribute td the memory 
of their national Poet. 

Mr. Thomson then exhibited the Will referred to by I)r. ^loir. 

Mr. Stuart said he had to exhibit another interesting document — 
namely, the tack of David Burnes of Brawlinmuir, dated 1788. A number 
of other leases granted by his ancestors to the Burnes family he would 
gladly have shown to those present, but unfortunately he had lent them to 
an admirer of Burns, who had forgotten to return them. 

Eev. C. C. Macdonald said that he had been asked to pioposo a vote of 
thanks to the committee who had made the necessary arrangements for 
carrying out the restoration of the stones. The services of the committee 
would be recognised not only throughout Scotland, but throughout the 
whole world. 

Mr. Greig said he thought it was due to associate with that vote the 
name of their friend Dr. Rogers. It was only right tliat the people in tlie 
district should have acted as they had done, but the Doctor was one on 
whom they had not the same claim. 

Dr. EoGERS said that his share of the duties had been small, and that 
the burden had rested on Mr. Gieig's shoulders. He took a great interest 
ill such work as the present, but this was positively the last he should 
engage in — he had finished his monumental labours in the kirkyard of Glen- 
bervie. He was glad they had with them members of the Poet's lineage in 
the person of the chairman (Mr. Greig) and Mr, Kobert Burncss, Stonehaven. 
He would add that he had spent the early part of the day, and visited 
several places of great historic interest, along with a gentleman now present, 
who had done more than any one in the past, or in recent times, to 
popularize and make known the poets and poetry of Scotland. He referred 
to Mr. D. H. Edwards of Brechin, to whose excellent literary taste and 
indomitable research Scotland lay under a debt of gratitude. Dr. Piogers 
concluded by thanking them heartily for the honour they had done him. 

Mr. Greig said that he felt it necessary to explain that there were 
not a few members of the Poet's lineage present with them, and he did not 


wish that those who were not aware of the fact should go away under any 
misapprehension. He saw perhaps half a dozen gentlemen and a good many 
ladies who could claim kin to tlie illustrious bard. 

Rev. Mr. Eeitii (a great-grandson of David Barnes) proposed a vote of 
thanks to the chairman, in recognition of the able manner in which he had 
carried out the arrangements. 

Several others having spoken briefly, the Auchinblae Volunteer Band, 
which was in attendance immediately outside the wall of the churchyard, 
struck up " Auld Langsyne," followed by other appropriate airs at intervals, 
including " Rantin' Robin," " A man's a man for a' that," " Scots wha 
hae," etc. On the invitation of Mrs. Nicolson, many of the company visited 
the beautiful enclosures of Glenbervie. 

Edinburgh : Scott d: Ferguson and Burness <t Company, 
Printers to Ilcr Majesty. 

PR Rogers, Charles 

4^329 The book of Robert Bums